Being one of the most graffiti liberal cities in the world, Bogotá in 2015 hosts at least 5000 big mural paintings and somewhere between 3000 and 5000 street artists. Graffiti paintings in Bogotá often reflect the biodiversity of the country as well as the social situation and the armed conflict that haunts Colombia since 60 years back.
The Street Art situation in Bogotá is quite special in many ways. The police rarely harass street artists anymore. In Bogotá, you cannot get arrested nor get a criminal record for painting graffiti, as long as it is not on a governmental building.
The mayor of Bogotá Gustavo Petro (leaving office in December) has favoured and financed a lot of street art in Bogotá, acknowledging its potential to create including politics for young people from excluded areas.
Although in la Candelaria a significant number of the paintings are made by international artist from Australia, Germany, Canada, Spain and Mexico, 90% of the paintings in Bogotá are estimated to be made by Colombian artists.
It is always difficult to generalise, but a significant difference between the average Western and the Latin American street artists is found in the colours as well as the shapes. Many Latin American artists use loads of bright colours and round shapes, while the Western painter use fewer colours and more rigid shapes. (As you can tell from the selected photos above, I already know which I like the best!)
Still no Banksy in Bogotá, although there are many paintings inspired by his style.
A painting in average lasts for 2-3 years in Bogotá but some are even 6 years old, like the one above. That’s almost ancient for a modern graffiti. This is possible in Bogotá, since there is no fight about space. There are enough walls for everybody.
Graffiti painters in Bogotá use the concrete walls along the highways and the walls of abandoned houses awaiting demolision. But there’s one more common option here. House and restaurant owners reckon that there is a win-win situation in cooperating with graffiti painters. Many painters ask house owners (in old town Candelaria in particular) if they can paint on their wall. The owners pay the material and in turn avoid having their walls tagged all the time and having to repaint their walls every three months.
Along calle 20 at the height of carrera 4, you’ll find a long wall painted by Guache, Toxicomano, Stinkfish and various street artists together. This painting was here already when I came to Colombia 5 years ago. It shows how the poor Colombian carry the rich and all the consumerism goods of the rich man. The birds in front of them yet represent a strive for freedom.
It looks like a pineapple but is at the same time a grenade, symbolising the violence that come with the international fruit companies in Colombia. For their banana and pineapple plantations, vast areas of land have to be “cleaned” from opponents. And there are no scruples when it comes to methods to displace people.
Links to some awesome street artists who are active in Bogotá:
Stinkfish (Bogotá, Colombia): stink.tk
Guache (Bogotá, Colombia): guache.co
Pez (Barcelona, Spain): el-pez.com
DJ LU (Bogotá, Colombia): flickr.com/photos/juegasiempre
Bastardilla (Bogotá, Colombia): bastardilla.org
Toxicomano (Bogotá, Colombia): flickr.com/photos/toxicomano666
Rodez (Bogotá, Colombia): flickr.com/people/rodez
Crisp (Sydney, Australia): crispstreetart.com