Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Painting the Walls: Murals of Buenos Aires


Buenos Aires has 48 barrios, and their inhabitants often identify with their neighborhoods as strongly as New Yorkers do with the boroughs of Brooklyn, Manhattan or Queens. Most tourists visit only a handful of those barrios and, though I myself live in BA part of the year, I know only a few of them in any depth. Some are simply below the radar – I’ve never been close to Villa Devoto, which is infamous for its namesake prison – but over the years I’ve expanded my geographical horizons and, sometimes, I’ve simply stumbled onto surprising sights.
That happened a few weeks ago when, after finishing an outstanding Asian dinner at the “closed doors” restaurant Cocina Sunae in the northwestern barrio of Villa Ortúzar (which to the best of my knowledge I had never visited before), I left to catch a bus back to Palermo. As I walked toward the bus stop and, under dim lights at the intersection of Roseti and 14 de Julio streets, I used my phone to photograph a startling mural that, I have since learned, depicts a Sudanese woman with what the city daily Clarín aptly calls “an enigmatic smile.”
Murals, the Clarín article points out, are not unusual in Buenos Aires, though from my experience they’re more common in more self-consciously artistic barrios such as San Telmo. Infamously, a few years ago, a demolition on Avenida Independencia destroyed a vivid mural of the barrio's bygone Afro-Argentine Carnaval celebrations.
Personally, I deplore brainless tagging that defaces public and private property, though I’ll acknowledge that, on occasion, unauthorized art of the sort that BA Graff (pictured immediately above) leaves on some Barrio Norte walls shows some genuine talent. In the case of the Villa Ortúzar mural, I was pleased to read that the two young painters, Sacha Reisien y Nicolás Germani, are twenty-something cousins who make a point of seeking permission for their work, which now numbers some 20 sites around the city.  They painted the mural at top, whose title is Expresiones 2 (Expression 2), in just two days. Some of their work is done with spray paint, but most of it with latex.

The two cousins’ website, Primo Murales, chronicles the development of all their murals through before and after photographs. It also includes Google Map locations, so that visitors to the city can undertake a self-guided tour – rather than simply stumbling upon their work, as I did.

2 comments:

  1. If you're not familiar with them, there're also the street art tours from GraffitiMundo: http://graffitimundo.com/graffiti-street-art-tours-buenos-aires/

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  2. That was on my to-do list in December, but I wasn't able to fit it into my remaining schedule.

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