Street art

Written by Jane Harris No Gravatar

The first and last time I was in Buenos Aires my good friend Susie (who I had met all of two hours earlier en-route to Patagonia) suggested an excellent way to sample the city in the single night we had there. Steak first of course, or rather steak first for me. Susie, who now eats all sorts of food and records it on her brilliant blog was vegetarian at the time and therefore opted, I think, for risotto. After our meal, at Susie’s suggestion, we asked the bar tender for the name of what he considered to be the best bar in the city and went there. We did the same at the next bar, and the next, and the next. Their recommendations took us to all corners of Buenos Aires, to venues large and small, sophisticated and local. A great night.

This time we’ve had a chance to explore at a more leisurely pace. We have tended to walk around the city – not only because it enables us to experience the way it changes as one moves from district to district, but also because there is a local coin shortage, which means that getting the correct change for the bus ticket dispenser is nigh on impossible.

We visited the amazing Recoleta cemetry – streets of tombs, considered to be the most expensive real estate in the city. We also visited three art galleries – the modern Fundacion Proa, currently featuring the work of louise Bourgeois (you may remember her giant spider from the Tate Modern); the beautifully housed Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (MALBA); and the comprehensive Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. However it is this street art that really seems to capture the spirit of the city.

Apparently graffiti first appeared during the 1980s but street art reached its zenith during the 2001 recession. Surprisingly then, although some of it is overtly political, most of it is pure fun – designed to raise the spirits rather than call for action. Graffiti is actually illegal unless it has been commissioned by the owner of the building to which it is applied. (That is increasingly common as is the private commissioning of more portable pieces of art by a small group of famous graffiti artists for use in homes and offices.) However even ‘illegal’ street art is tolerated in a way that it would not be in, say, London, which is why many European artists flock to Buenos Aries to practise their art.

Occasionally, of course, images are removed. More often though they are changed as artists add to or amend the work of their peers. In one of the examples we saw the face of a dog, to which had been added a pair of large red glossy lips which were spewing out demons or some such. Not all art evolves of course. An image declaring allegiance to Argentina during the Falklands conflict had obviously been there a relatively long time. We were so impressed by Buenos Aires’ street art that we spent the entire day today searching for prime examples. I’ve included a few images here for you to enjoy while we pop out for yet another steak.

And after the steak? Who knows. Maybe we’ll ask the bar tender for his recommendation.

One Response to “Street art”

  1. SusieNo Gravatar says:

    thanks for the shout out, those were happy days. We should do the bar tenders bar crawl in London when you are back
    The pictures are as ever amazing. happy travelling, miss you


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