Parisian graffiti artist Astro brings new public art to Northeastern

Visiting artist Greg Astro installs a new mural on the outside of Burstein Hall on Huntington Avenue on August 2, 2018. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Parisian graffiti artist Greg Astro is creating tunnels and ledges on two walls across from West Village—and he’s using paint to do it.

Known for his perspective-bending street art, Astro is painting two elaborate murals on top of Punter’s Pub, a building on Huntington Avenue that overlooks Boston’s Avenue of the Arts and sits directly across from the Museum of Fine Arts.

The murals feature cubes that appear to pop out of flat walls as well as tunnels that appear to go within them.

President Joseph E. Aoun talks with visiting artist Greg Astro shortly before he started to install a new mural on Huntington Avenue. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

“It’s like sculpture, but not,” Astro said. “It’s a way of drawing attention to a space that people would normally just pass right by.”

His mural is the latest piece in President Joseph E. Aoun’s Public Art Initiative, which provides a platform for artists to brighten the campus with their creativity.

“Astro’s signature dynamic style is found all over the world,” said Clare Horn, Northeastern’s director of content marketing. “We wanted to bring that to Northeastern and feature it right along Boston’s Avenue of the Arts for everyone to enjoy.”

Astro and his assistant, Walter Javier Lopez Bartesaghui, visited the MFA one evening and were inspired by the Egyptian art held there, Bartesaghui said. The freehand graffiti drawings, found around and within Astro’s cubes on the new mural, pull inspiration from calligraphy and Egyptian hieroglyphics.

“For this, I just go by feeling,” Astro said. As he spoke, he sprayed designs that concealed eyes, faces, and mouths on the mural.

He’s always been drawn to the sort of abstract designs found in his mural at Northeastern.

Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

“I prefer when people can imagine something in it,” Astro said.

Astro started painting 20 years ago, after an injury cut short his skateboarding career.

“And I just never stopped,” he said.

Asked what he loves about the art, he stood for a moment, as if surprised by the question.

“That’s like asking, ‘What do I love about breathing?’” he said. “I just have to do it. If I didn’t, I would lose myself.”