Run don’t walk

In artworld, Buenos Aires, Sud America on April 21, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Street art is big here in Buenos Aires, literally, pieces take up whole walls, sides of buildings, doorways. Intricate, distinctive pieces that show off each artists style, whether it be painstaking hand cut stencils or aerosols used as paintbrushes or hand painted luchadors, you can pretty much find whatever you want here and it’s amazing when I go on mundografitti’s street art tour to discover that this vibrant scene has only been going for the last decade or so.
Prompted by the political upheavals of 2001 Argentine artists and graphic designers took to the streets and put up ironic, heartfelt, comic and political pieces that reclaimed disused wall space as a canvas for their views on what was happening in Argentina as presidents were swapped like top trumps and porteños took to the streets to riot, protest, and express their dissatisfaction with the greedy, grubby politicians that claimed to hold the moral high ground.
Walking through Buenos Aires is like walking through Berlin, tags everywhere, words scrawled across walls, posters, daubed on statues and sculptures, an articulate howl of I am here! Hear me! But then beyond the words and the names, you begin to see more artistic works which draw you to them, camera held aloft to capture the illustrations and paintings before you.
There is an underlying tension between the street artists and the taggers and bombers, a back and forth over territory and respect in terms of where pieces are thrown up and whether it is right to cover them with your own styles. The intricate words and logos that are manifested in the grafitti style is in my eyes rendered obsolete and archaic by the vitality and creativity of this newer breed of artists, pointing out as they interact with the city and the world around them how much grafitti in the tagging sense has moved on so little.
But the street artists aren’t about beefs or territorial bragging rights they just want their work to be seen and seen it is by the twenty or so of us that follow our English guide Marina around Palermo as she points out different pieces by different artists on the walls of the barrio. A bearded man walks with her, holding one of those cardboard tubes you put prints/artworks in. It transpires that he is fede (sp) one of the artists whose work adorns the walls around us, working under the moniker Run Dont Walk and in the tube is his latest stencil, a collage of a face. I chat to him about Berlin, street art and other things before he steps away having spied a suitable expanse of brickwork.

He quickly sticks up a sheet of plastic which has uneven rectangular stripes cut out of it and sprays alternate lines of green and orange, to create a background, he then exhanges that sheet for another more ornately cut stencil, which he sprays over with black paint. Carefully he unpeels the stencil and reveals the final image, a face contorted in a scream, mouth gaping wide. He explains it’s better if you look at it from a distance.
In Buenos Aires you don’t have to be a quick ghost, appearing and disappearing after a work is quickly tossed up, the authorities have bigger fish to fry and don’t view the artworks as anything to get worked up over, and the artists themselves are respectful of peoples property, placing their work on derelict buildings, or if a wall is part of an occupied building asking permission from the occupants before painting whatever their imaginations can conceive.
And their imaginations are ever fertile, over the last decade artists have changed and grown their visual styles changing over time, the issues they want to confront growing larger or more personal. As they grow as artists so they outgrow the styles that once defined them, instinctively striving for something newer and more challenging resisting the urge to repeat themselves over and over.
We end up in Post bar aka hollywood in cambodia in Palermo, which is adorned inside and out with work from fede and others. It is a dazzling collage of styles and images. Through the back of the bar is a gallery space across two floors from which fede sells the work of himself and his contemporaries. We stand and look at the canvases and limited edition prints and wonder how much such work would cost, and I’m amazed when I flick through the work at how cheap it is. So obviously I buy some, two prints by fede, whose work intrigues me, having taken a photo of one of his pieces as I walked around Palermo previous to going on the tour and another by a brazilian artist, which i’m instantly attracted to.

And I look forward to hanging them on my walls, a graphic reminder of my time here in this most intriguing of cities.

  1. […] Continue reading here: Run don't walk « mrvertes great escape […]

  2. dang fun info bro.

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