Buenos Aires, City Street Art
Buenos Aires, City Street Art
There is more Buenos Aires to be seen, aside from the Obelisk, La Boca, football and tango shows. The graffiti tour BA Street Art is one of the alternative options in tourism that are getting the attention of those who arrive in the city. Actually, it has been recommended by Trip Advisor and in 2013, it was awarded with a prestigious Certificate of Excellence.
The tour runs three times a week, normally on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. ''We have visitors from all over the world. When it comes to Canada, they are mainly from Toronto, Montreal, Calgary. There are a lot who are from the United States but most tourists are from European countries, such as France, England, Italy and Spain. There are also visitors from South Africa, New Zealand, China, Korea and Japan'' says Matt Fox - Tucker, Director of BA Street Art.
It causes great surprise that Fox - Tucker is not Argentinian, and his story is even a greater surprise. He is an English journalist who worked for the BBC for six years and came to Argentina to study Spanish in the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), where he met a friend with whom they took photographs of the city's many graffitis.
''We were impressed by the number of painted walls and their quality. We did some research and we discovered that there weren't many books about urban art. With our pictures, we made a deal with a publicist in New York to make a 160 page book: Texture Two, Buenos Aires Street Art'', he explains.
During the making of the book, they met many artists who weren't known at the time since their pictures weren't shown on neither social networks, nor webpages about Street Art.
''We started the first webpage to show pictures of the murals thanks to the relationship we had with the artists, we met them in events or painting in the streets. Then we made a Facebook profile and we tagged all the artists. It started as a common place to get information about the artists and about the movement itself'' he states.
Buenos Aires, an empty canvas.
With the street art and graffiti movement on the upswing on social networks and webpages, Argentina has held interesting events for the movement such as Meeting of Styles, SUDA and Zig Zag. Buenos Aires is now on the map as one of the capitals of Street Art, and the reasons for it to be appealing to tourists are several.
''There are many abandoned places and walls you can paint without permission and without runnimg into any problems either. The Government of the City supports many Urban Art projects. For instance we, Buenos Aires Street Art, started a big project last August with artist Martin Ron to paint a big mural in the Villa Urquiza neighbourhood. It was done in 16 days, a mural that is 812 square metres. This doesn't happen in every country because in other places it is more difficult to paint in the streets. In England, you go to jail. There's more street art in Buenos Aires than in any other city in the globe'', he says.
Next to Martín Ron's giant mural, you can see another one done by Italian artist Blu. However, they are not the only famous street artists. There are murals by Fintan Magee (Australia), Roa (Belgium) and Ever, the city's referent.
Fox - Tucker explains that there are young people who paint trains in groups, but in an more hidden way. ''They paint illegally because they like adrenaline. There are those who will ring your bell and ask for permission. Here the law says that if you have the owner's permission, you can do anything'' he points out. In other situations, home or business owners contact artists and choose the design for a wall, a mural, colours, a logo. ''Some charge a lot of money while some do it for love to the art itself''.
When asked about what kind of tourists take this tour, FT points out that Buenos Aires' architecture is very attractive, but there are places other than the Obelisk, the Casa Rosada (Government House), and the Teatro Colón to see. There are more things to do than play football and enjoy tango.
''One of the things that impressed me the most about Buenos Aires is its architecture, since it changes from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, even green spaces and historical locations. Neighbourhoods that are far from downtown often have bigger walls and artists can paint more quietly. There are vacant lots, and buildings that were demolished during the dictatorship to build highways that were never built. It is quite common for artists, such as Coghlan and Saavedra, to go and paint in these places, like Villa Urquiza. Blu, an Italian artist, is one of the most important names that has painted there. He made a mural in Villa Urquiza that is still among the biggest in the city'', he states.
About the topics that can be observed in murals, FT says ''Most artists don't just express in protest. People often think that graffiti is about politics but each artist has their own style and sometimes they copy. Some paint with many colours, some like portraits, and some paint women. There are many influences, such as Klimt or Freud'' he says.
About the unique sensation left by street art in Buenos Aires, FT states that neighbours are often very content about it, contrary to what some may think''. An artist can paint something beautiful on a wall that wasn't well-preserved, was vandalized with nasty messages. The truth is that neighbourhoods are brought back to life thanks to these murals'', he concludes.