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Saturday 20 December  
Waterlooplein,1983 - by Hugo Kaagman
Willemien Groot's picture
Utrecht, Netherlands
Utrecht, Netherlands

Dutch graffiti train just for show

Published on : 24 March 2012 - 9:00am | By Willemien Groot (Photo: Hugo Kaagman)
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No Amsterdam building was safe from his spray cans. Now Dutch street artist Hugo Kaagman paints metro stations, airplanes and trains – with permission. His work is now on show in the Railway Museum in Utrecht. “Now I don’t really climb onto roofs anymore to make a piece of art.”

The Stencil Station exhibition gives an overview of the work of an artist whose pieces can be found all over the world; from St Petersburg to New York and Nagasaki.

“In 1980 Amsterdam was the graffiti capital of the world. There was a lot of freedom and graffiti fit perfectly in the city’s chaotic street scene. Now it’s no longer allowed.”

(Read more below)

  • Athens, mural, 1985 - by Hugo Kaagman<br>&copy; Photo: Hugo Kaagman -
  • British Airways, Delfblue Daybreak,1998 - by Hugo Kaagman<br>&copy; Photo: Hugo Kaagman -
  • Havenkanaal, mural, 2010 - by Hugo Kaagman<br>&copy; Photo: Hugo Kaagman -
  • Hugo Kaagman spraying<br>&copy; Photo: Hugo Kaagman -
  • Netherworld punkart,1985 - by Hugo Kaagman<br>&copy; Photo: Hugo Kaagman -
  • Delftblue train, 2012 - by Hugo Kaagman<br>&copy; Photo: Hugo Kaagman -
  • Turquoise cross canvas, 1988 - By Hugo Kaagman<br>&copy; Photo: Hugo Kaagman -
  • Waterlooplein,1983 - by Hugo Kaagman<br>&copy; Photo: Hugo Kaagman -
  • Zuiderzee Museum, 2008 - by Hugo Kaagman<br>&copy; Photo: Hugo Kaagman -

Spray paint artist
Through the late 70s and early 80s Hugo Kaagman developed into a spray paint artist with a preference for stencil art - repeated images made with a template. Nowadays Mr Kaagman mainly works where he’s been given permission.

He has, for example, painted the tails of airplanes for British Airways, a shuttle bus of the Hilton Hotel in Athens, metro stations, murals, but also pottery and canvasses. And nowadays he gets paid for doing so.

“When you’re young, you don’t care about money. You have the energy to try out things. Now I don’t really climb onto roofs to make a piece of art.”

Vandalism vs. art
The artist was allowed to paint several railway carriages and an old shunting engine for the Railway Museum in Utrecht. Sadly, they won’t soon be riding through the Netherlands. 

"Dutch Rail spends millions of euros every year cleaning graffiti from its regular trains. If people suddenly saw a painted train riding around, it might give them the wrong idea.”

Half joking, half serious he adds, “The division between vandalism and art is still a big problem.”

Stencil Station runs from 21 March 2012 to 24 June 2012 at the Railway Museum in Utrecht


Hugo Kaagman's makeover of a railway carriage at the Railway Museum

A stencil workshop for children




Julius Zsako 25 March 2012 - 5:31pm / U.S.A.

Now Dutch street artist Hugo Kaagman paint with permission. Great. That is art as compared to graffiti vandalism. Shame many people can't seperate the two. In the U. S. , the National Association of Realtors estimated that properties located in neighborhoods suffering from graffiti vandalism lost 15% of their value. In addition to harming the homeowner, graffiti is very costly to remove. Some American cities are only now starting regular graffiti removal programs. Others have been in the business a long time. Los Angeles County spent nearly $40 million a year on graffiti clean-up in 1998. Four years later, their annual graffiti removal expenses grew to $55 million. By 2007, Los Angeles authorities received more than 600,000 reports of graffiti. The City & County of Denver spends more than $1 million a year on graffiti removal. The United States Department of Justice estimated that Americans spent $12 billion a year removing graffiti. Learn more at

Max Harmreduction 24 March 2012 - 10:07pm

Well done Hugo!! My work with young people has given me a personal appreciation of spray-can Art. What strikes me as specifically Dutch here is the fist breaking the needle and syringe. Even Dutch researchers think the anti-heroin youth culture is very special compared to other nations. They say it comes from the cannabis culture in the coffeeshops that the rest of the World does not have. And Hugo has not put cannabis leaves everywhere because the spirit of coffeeshops is not advertising it. Cheers, Max

Anonymous 24 March 2012 - 3:25pm

He really seems to be a talented artist.

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