The street art scene has experienced an evolution in the past several decades. What was once seen as a product of unruly gangs is now a celebrated form of public art, entering the mainstream in major metropolises across the globe. This form of creative expression has come to define many of city’s underground culture and uniqueness.It is amazing how a splash of paint can transform a community and tell the story of a culture without a single word. Let’s enjoy these masterpieces today because only time will tell if they will still remain tomorrow.
Brussels has proclaimed itself “the comic book capital of the world” as hometown of popular characters Tintin and the Smurfs, adding an extra dose of whimsy to the area. Find over 55 comic strips spread across the city, snuggled up between the buildings or behind the scaffoldings. Take a comic strip walking tour or just hop on a bicycle to see the murals for yourself!
Discover blocks of murals in the artsy Barranco neighborhood and temporary art cubes in the parks in Miraflores. Mayor Susan Villaran viewed street art as a means to brighten dull city walls and bring in tourists. She gave artists permits to paint dozens of murals in the city’s historic downtown. In 2015, new Mayor Luis Castañeda, ordered that all the murals painted during his predecessor’s reign be covered with yellow paint — the color of his conservative party. He claimed the art broke the city’s agreement with UNESCO World Heritage Site. An evident contradiction continues to exist between art and democracy — that without freedom of expression.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In 2009, the Brazilian government passed law 706/07 which legalizes street art, if painted with the consent of the building owner. Rio is progressive in its policy towards street art, with its 1999 “Não pixe, grafite” (Don’t Tag, Graffiti) project. In Brazil, there is distinction made between tagging, (pichação), and grafite, a style only in Brazil. Law 706/07 merely reinforced the blurred lines of informal permission of street art and legitimized an already flourishing form of artistic expression.
Street art in Kolkata has taken a new turn with the coming of new artists. Small groups of three to four work under pseudonyms to project their art without revealing their identity. Most of these artists are college students and their passion for art is what drives them to work so hard to promote this form of art. Graffiti in Kolkata is as of mostly a freelance movement, but with heavy demand and popularity, it could very well evolve into a full- fledged business on artistic terms in the near future.
Istanbul’s street art scene may not yet rank alongside that of NYC or Berlin, but it’s evolving every year. From murals that cover entire buildings to train graffiti and stencil art. Join a street art tour or download the self-guided iphone app. Be sure to check out Istiklal Avenue, Tünel, Şişhane, Karaköy, Kadıköy, Beyoglu and Moda areas for the best works of art.
Do you have a favorite city with vibrant street art? Where in the world is it?
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