How nifty are David de Limón’s Valencian ninjas? Valencia street art legend Limón…

How nifty are David de Limón’s Valencian ninjas? Olivia Bastin on the true homegrown Valencia street art legend Limón

Before arriving in Valencia, I was aware it was a thriving metropolis with resplendent Mediterranean beaches. Plus Calatrava’s striking City of the Arts and Sciences. And an eclectic mix of architectural styles ranging from brutalist to Valencian art-deco. It came as no surprise to me that over 840,000 locals and expatriates call Valencia home. But little did I know that this figure would not reach every facet of the population. A crucial group was missing… Shock! Horror! Painted on the side of telephone boxes and hidden around winding alleys peaked wide-eyed black-and-white ninjas. Always clutching a spray-can courtesy of David de Limón, a Valencian local born in the El Carmen district.

First meeting with ninjas

My first interaction with one of Limóns’ ninjas was when I was passing Na Jordanna. I saw one of these cheeky little figures clutching a painting of a screaming woman. I continued to scour Valencia for more of these bewitching creations. Yet when conducting further research, I learnt that these figures were not ninjas at all. They are a collaboration by street artists who must disguise their identity given the illegal nature of their work. Each “ninja” has a heart painted on its chest. Limon wanted to convey the positivity of making the city artistically captivating for its locals. Despite Limón not having a philosophical agenda transposed through his creations he enjoys the “bombing” aspect of his works. “Bombing” is the repetition of an artist’s signature until it becomes well known among the general population. And David de Limón certainly is… 

Valencia street art legend Limón attended the Polytechnic University of Valencia and his first signature was a lemon. But he decided as a visual artist he could not develop the lemon signature in the way he wanted. So he settled on his beloved “ninjas”. Limón was of the opinion that a city’s street art scene made it unique. He wanted to get away from duller aesthetics by imposing these little splashes of colour throughout Valencia. Moreover, he concluded that street art could be enjoyed freely as opposed to paying to a visit to a gallery. This continues to change people’s physiological reactions to the urban spaces around them. 

Valencia street art legend Limón

Understanding Limóns’ take on his creations allowed me to develop my own artistic opinions of his work. What is inherently striking about these three dimensional figures is the often playful and interactive manner of the “ninjas”’ themselves. These match the bright and vibrant aesthetic of the street-art. For me, the aesthetic seems influenced by the British and American pop art movement of the late 1950s. Predominantly exhibiting simple, clean shapes, yet bold and eye-catching colour palettes sum up both artistic moods. 

Of course, when naming my favourite “ninjas” I find it difficult to choose. One is of a “ninja” gleefully holding a bomb about to explode. Despite the lack of facial expressions, I love the defiant and exuberant personality of this particularly naughty “ninja”. Another is riding a glowing red horse, triumphant and poised for battle. One shows a stealthy escape painted against a simple yet effective black background. Another “ninja” features a little girl paint the word “welcome” in multiple languages with iconic Valencian sights painted on the bottom of the piece. The friendly message of inclusivity towards tourists and visitors further highlights Limóns’ upbeat philosophy surrounding his work. 

On the hunt for more ninjas

In conclusion, I have yet to track down every one of Limóns’ ninjas in Spain’s third largest city. Although it may seem like the majority can be found in El Carmen, I enjoy the frequent delight when I find one in an outlying suburb or even just watching me from around the corner. Despite the fact that I may never locate them all… These little “ninjas” floating around in Valencia’s collective memory serves to show how it is impossible to measure the extent of an individual’s creative expression, imagination and identity. And of course what effect this will have on the urban spaces it touches. Not to mention the psyche of the people who live there. So if you know of any more nifty little “ninjas” lurking around the city let me know…

Visit David de Limón’s website at

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