Manchester’s street art scene is constantly evolving – just like graffiti itself. You can’t move for the large scale murals, pasted posters, throw-ups, tags and stickers dotted over the city.

But there’s one artist, in particular, who has generated quite the cult following for himself,  painting huge photo-realistic portraits of pop culture icons in prime locations across Manchester.

We’re talking, of course, about AkseP19 – the man behind some of the most famous street art in Manchester.

AkseP19’s 2016 tribute to David Bowie in Stevenson Square

Over the years, Akse (pronounced Axe) has gained a huge amount of attention online with his hyperrealistic freehand murals of pop culture icons such as David Bowie, Tony Wilson, Prince, Liam Gallagher and Game of Thrones’ Arya Stark.

Many of his pieces have gone viral on social media, with snap-happy locals and tourists alike rushing to get a shot of his latest creation with which to update their Instagram feeds – a trend that doesn’t look set to change any time soon, despite his preference for anonymity.

The self-taught French Vietnamese artist has been in the street art world for a long time. He’s been painting since 1992, joining Pest’s P19 crew in 1993 and moving to Manchester in 1997, where he has lived ever since with his family.

But his work isn’t limited to Manchester. In fact, it can be found all over the world.

2016 tribute to Prince painted by AkseP19 on the Tib st sub station

As well as taking his influences from music, film and tv, Akse has also painted a number of larger-than-life portraits of his two small boys, who also make frequent appearances on his own social media feed when he’s out and about painting.

One of his most memorable series was the Movie Psychopaths project, featuring famous faces including Christophe Walken, Jack Nicholson, Anthony Hopkins, Kevin Spacey and Christian Bale, plus a series featuring characters from cult TV series Breaking Bad.

 

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Some remain, but many have been painted over or – as was the case with his infamous Donald Trump mural, which depicted the POTUS shouting in the face of Martin Luther King – demolished.

Other pieces over the years have been defaced, such as a short-lived portrait of Heisenberg, aka Walter White, from Breaking Bad, painted to coincide with the 5th season of the show back in 2013.

For those who fancy seeing his work IRL, we’ve put together a short guide to point you in the direction of the murals that can still be seen today, based on a recent map the artist uploaded to his Instagram account.

But you’d better be quick. We can’t promise that they’ll be around for much longer. That’s graffiti for you.

Manchester City Centre

Eleven from Stranger Things at Sweet Mandarin

This giant mural of protagonist Eleven appeared outside Chinese restaurant Sweet Mandarin at the beginning of the month to mark the release of season 3 of Netflix hit Stranger Things.

19 Copperas St, Manchester M4 1HS

Liam Gallagher at The (old) Roadhouse

 

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You’ll find this portrait of Manc rock and roller Liam Gallagher inspired by his new music video The River in the doorway of the iconic Roadhouse nightclub which closed in 2015 to make space for Mary Ellen McTague’s city centre Aumbry restaurant that never actually materialised. It took Akse two days to paint, partly because he had to mask the stone round the door to ensure it remained free from paint. As you were.

8 Newton St, Manchester M1 2AN

Akse’s oldest son at the Castlefield Locks / Deansgate tram stop

 

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Akse’s second portrait of his oldest son can be found near the Deansgate tram stop. He was originally meant to paint his youngest son in this superhero get up, but only got around to it three years later.

Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LG

Heisenberg at Grindsmith on Deansgate

 

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Akse’s second portrait of Breaking Bad antihero Walter White, aka Heisenberg, can be found at Grindsmith coffee on Deansgate. The first was notoriously defaced in 2013 following criticism online that it glorified drug use in the part of the Northern Quarter where it was painted.

231 – 233 Deansgate, Manchester, UK, M3 4EN.

Jack Nicholson at Marlborough House

 

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Harking back all the way to 2011, this portrait of Jack Nicholson was one of the first in Akse’s Moveable Psychopath series.

52 Newton St, Manchester M1 1ED

The Bull of Tib Street at the Butchers Quarter

 

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This commission for the NQ butchers can still be seen today. Make sure to go out of opening hours when the shutters are down, though.

66 Tib St, Manchester M4 1LG

1950’s mural commission at Pen and Pencil

 

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This commission for the Pen and Pencil can be seen in the bar’s private room.

57 Hilton St, Manchester M1 2EJ

Curvy girl commission at Almost Famous Burgers NQ

 

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100-102 High St, Manchester M4 1HP

Carrie Fisher aka Princess Leya at Projekts Skatepark

 

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Following the sad passing of Carrie Fisher at the end of 2016, this tribute to her iconic performance as Princess Leya in the Star Wars films appeared at Projekts Skatepark.

97 London Rd, Manchester M1 2PG

Ancoats

Patrick Bateman aka Batman at Wellington House

 

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Lorne Malvo at Wellington House

 

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Akse’s tribute to the Lorne Malvo character in Fargo was painted in May 2017 – and he’s wearing an I Love MCR badge.

Portrait of Swiss graffiti artist Boogie at Wellington House

 

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A portrait of Swiss-based graffiti artist and designer Boogie, commissioned by his brother for a book to celebrate the artist’s 40th birthday.

Pollard St E, Manchester M40 7FS

Rusholme

Jimi Hendrix and Mike from Breaking Bad at Antwerp Mansion

 

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This portrait of rock and roll hero Jimi Hendrix was painted at the Mansion all the way back in 2013 and was the first piece of Akse’s work we ever saw. Next to it sits a portrait of Mike Ehrmantraut from Breaking Bad and, once upon a time, there was also a portrait of Manc DJ Zed Bias here too. The club’s been closed for over a year now, but rumour has it they are still running some events there under a ‘membership only’ policy, so you might be able to sneak a peek at these pieces.

 

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Part of Akse’s evolving Movie Psychopaths project, painted in 2014.

Park Crescent, Manchester M14 5RF

Burnage

Uma Thurman

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A homage to Kill Bill star Uma Thurman, who starred as a bloodied bride come assassin out to seek her revenge on an old boss in the 2003 Tarantino classic.

Gorton

Robin redbreast at Abbey Hey Allotments

 

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Ackroyd Avenue, Abbey Hey, M18 8TL

Wilmslow

Gandhi commission at Albert Road Opticians

 

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18 Albert Rd, Wilmslow SK9 5HT

Prestwich

Mark E. Smith at Chips@No. 8

Lead singer of The Fall Mark E. Smith is memorialised on this Prestwich wall next to Chips@ No.8 which, coincidentally, serves some of the best fish and chips in Manchester.

8 Clifton Rd, Prestwich, Manchester M25 3HQ

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