I started a couple of weeks ago sharing with you some images of the windmills of Mykonos. Those images stayed with me so I’m thinking of a way to make some work with them. I’ll keep you posted.
In the meantime, I’ll share some more images of favourite things. One of those is graffiti and street art. Maybe because I love text, words and lettering of all kinds, graffiti is right up my alley. It is a form of expression. It is art. Countless books have been written on the subject. I know, I know … there’s controversy over the subject – and I am not going to get into it here. There are different opinions on the matter, some for, some against. I respect all of them.
What I cannot deny, is that some of these artists are extremely talented. Spain is known for the street art that decorates major cities and towns all over the country, with multiple Spanish street artists reaching global acclaim. The street art phenomenon is especially significant not only for the identity it gives to Spain, but also for its relation to contemporary culture and expression.
The two principles that unite the diverse network of graffiti artists throughout Spain are anonymity and adventure. In this way, street art becomes an equalizing force for expression. Of the thousands of graffiti artists throughout Spain, there exists no single class or personal affiliation. From this anonymity arises solidarity; artists sometimes work in teams or paint in recognizable styles, but rarely is the actual identity of an artist public.
The first image reminded me of a saying my dad used a lot: “Calavera no chilla” – meaning literally “skull doesn’t squeak” – or “Skull doesn’t cry” as in the photo above. So what does that mean? This saying, which literally means “a corpse cannot protest”, is currently used in the lunfardo of the River Plate to remind those who complain that they must comply with their obligations after a night of partying. Although the phrase is also applied more broadly to other types of situations, when we say “skull”, we know that we are referring to a person who enjoys the night, or to express it in current terms, “party girl”. haha Great memories … My dad used to say that to my sister and I after we had arrived late at night (2:00 a.m. was curfew) and had to get up at 7:00 a.m. to go buy pastries at the bakery for breakfast on a Sunday – which was our duty as good daughters to prepare . Anyway … I digress …
Barcelona was incredible: graffiti everywhere. So … as you know I love my research, I went looking. Here’s some of what I found:
“Barcelona has had a difficult relationship with street art. It arrived to Barcelona in the 1980’s with the rise of rap music and American movies. The 1990’s were a golden age, with the city becoming the capital of graffiti in Europe despite the authorities starting to fine artists and clean away tags. In the mid-2000’s laws against vandalism made it really difficult to find surfaces to paint and getting permits required a discouraging amount of paperwork. But after the 2010’s the city council and other local institutions have promoted initiatives such as legal graffiti walls or street artists collaborations with cultural programs. Nowadays the city continues to spend thousands of euros each day to clean tags and graffiti, but mostly the walls: shutters, doors and windows are left for the owners to clean. And with the constant affluence of street artists and taggers, many owners end up giving up. And that’s where many artists flourish.”
Street art is temporary and perishable. Since a lot of pieces are written on business shutters, the best time to see them is when the shops are closed. That is before 10AM or on Sundays. Another possibility is between 2PM and 4PM, during lunch break – although not all businesses will be closed. Nighttime is also a good moment, but it’ll be more difficult to take good pictures because there won’t be much light. But, there must be something to be said for graffiti and street art, as there are lots of guided tours of street art in Barcelona. This trip, I just walked around and took photos that caught my attention. Here are a few of my favourite:
Some of these were taken at night, when most of the stores were closed. Some of them are simpler, some more elaborate. Some colourful, some almost monochromatic. But all of them, without a doubt, interesting and worth a second look. A few more?
Whatever your view on street art, there’s something beautiful about it: there’s true talent and artistic vision to these.
Barcelona, as I mentioned before, has a difficult relationship with street art but is looking for ways to create spaces for artist to showcase their talent. One of those places is The Parc de les Tres Xemeneies – a concrete esplanade next to what was once one of the first energy centrals of Barcelona. The three large smoke pipes (“xemeneies” in Catalan) remain, but the central has become an office building. Several walls around the building and the plaza are legal graffiti walls that you can book online to use. So street art varies constantly as it gets booked often. Next time, maybe I’ll get there.
I’ll leave you with one last image of a detail of a door in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona. A colourful one for sure with a great message: “Look around you. It will astound.” Which as you can see, I did … and found delightful, sometimes funny, and often impressive street art.
I hope you enjoy the photos – whatever your opinion on the subject is. Until I write again, keep making wonderful stuff.