Even at magic hour, when it is perfectly lit and the city at its most attractive, it is difficult to know what to make of Banja Luka’s “Old Dude”. Painted by the Bulgarian artist Bozhidar Simeonov, or Bozko, on a wall in Borik, a suburb to the north-east of the city centre, the mural depicts a pale, seemingly waterlogged fish-man with webbed fingers and Dalí-esque moustache wearing a rowing boat as a tutu. He sniffs a flower with his purple, bovine nose while crows flock about his balding pate. It is an accomplished and unquestionably ugly work .
The “Old Dude” was not the city’s first piece of wall-sized street art. That would be the award-winning “Find Your Way to Fly”, by Croatian artist Lonac and Serbian artist Artez, which appears in the same area, and the large-scale portraits of international and local celebrities painted by local artist Stefan Mihajlović throughout the neighbourhood of Hanište pre-date that.