If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them – Graffiti Art In Bogota, Colombia
“Graffiti is not about clean lines, pretty colors and beautiful blends. Graffiti is my life’s turbulence exploded on a wall.” Mint Serf
Graffiti started in Bogotá in the seventies with different futbol fans proclaiming their loyalty. It was a time of drug cartels, poverty and a repressed military society.The graffiti was a way of protesting and not so much about art. In the nineties it became more artistic. As in other countries, it was started by art students near the Universities.
In Bogotá like everywhere else, graffiti and graffiti art was a crime. In 2011 Diego Felipe Becerra was spray-painting his signature Felix the Cat image on the walls of an underpass when he was killed by police.
Public outrage and protests led to the city’s change in attitude toward street art as well as the arrest of the officers. Certain walls became legal for graffiti.
The city began hiring street artists for public murals.
Many walls were designated for artistic expression and beautiful murals were painted – usually with political or social messages.
Looking over the photos there is definitely much more of this in Bogotá then in other countries I have been to.
The street art scene in Bogotá is not so much a street gallery as it is art in the streets. There are many less paid for walls and much more self-expression than in some other cities.
The paint is expensive so they use cheaper paint that is not long-lasting. . The art is constantly changing. There are wall wars with people painting over each other’s pieces.
DJ Lu was one of the earlier street artists and his stencils all had serious political messages. He uses common branding as a way of getting his message across quickly. (pineapple grenades, mosquitos ,guns )
Rodez paints with his sons (both college graduates) and sometimes gets help from other street artists. They often teach in Buenos Aires.
Animal Poder Crew is a street art collective started by Stinkfish and has grown to include graffiti artists and writers from all over the world.
Toxicomono started as a punk rock band and grew into a street art group.
The increase in street art also produces an increase in tagging or vandalism. It’s hard to tell street artists where they can and cannot paint. It doesn’t go with the nature of street art. It s harder to tell people who are angry or just have something to say that they can’t write their messages on walls either.
Then there was Justin Bieber. After a concert in Bogotá, he went with a police escort to write on city walls that were off-limits for graffiti. Overnight, hundreds of new artworks appeared on the underpass. When approached by police the artists said, “Why don’t you protect us like you did Justin Bieber?”
Thanks Luiz Lamprea for your knowledge and love of street art.