German graffiti artist OZ killed by Hamburg subway train


One of Germany’s most prolific graffiti artists has died after being hit by a train on Thursday night.
The body of 64-year-old Walter Josef Fischer, better known by his pseudonym Oz, was discovered on the tracks of Hamburg’s subway system shortly after 11pm (2200 BST). A freshly sprayed tag and a paint can were reportedly found nearby. Fischer rose to prominence in Hamburg in the early 90s, when his signature tags – primitive spirals, smiley faces sprayed on street signs and his trademark moniker – began to proliferate around Germany’s second-largest city. Oz divided the city. Some considered the works vandalism, while others thought they added a touch of humour to Hamburg’s grey cityscape. His productivity guaranteed that he was soon known across Germany. He is estimated to have sprayed more than 120,000 tags. Police originally suspected an entire gang to be behind his work, and they were surprised when the perpetrator turned out to be one elderly, moustachioed man. Fischer, a former gardener from Heidelberg who later drifted into homelessness, was repeatedly caught and convicted for damage to property, spending a total of over eight years in prison. On some occasions, he was found reoffending within hours of having his spraycans confiscated. As recently as 2012, he managed to skip jail after paying a €1,200 (£940) fine. In recent years, galleries in Hamburg had begun to exhibit Fischer’s graffiti. A book about his work was published in March this year. Asked by a local fanzine if he was an obsessive, Fischer said: “What does obsessive mean? I always tell myself there is a lot to be done. I don’t feel guilty for prettifying our environment.” Text found here

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