Wanting to do something a little alternative in Buenos Aires? Look no further than BA street art tours, a totally cool and fascinating look into the abundant graffiti and murals littering the city. We met our guide, Lucia, in the Colegiales neighborhood on a sunny afternoon. After a quick intro, we started off on the train towards the Coghlan, Villa Urquiza, and Saavedra barrios for some diamonds in the rough. Immediately upon leaving the train, it´s clear the sheer abundance of murals in these neighborhoods is astounding. We started out learning more about the complexities of graffiti, which has its own unique classification system, well-known artists, methodologies, and celebrities, a fascinating insight into this underground art culture. Graffiti can be as simple as a Tag, the artists street name written artistically in their own style, or as complex as a Burner, so named because the vibrant colors and talent involved make the graffiti appear 3D and as if it were extended out of the wall in front of you. We learned about all kinds of different techniques used and I truly started to understand how talented graffiti artists are – to complete such amazing pieces in short amounts of time is really amazing. On the other side of the coin, we toured many murals as well – pieces which are commissioned by owners of buildings or homes. These pieces are commissioned for various reasons; for want of something artistic on the owner´s wall, as competition against another mural across the street, as a political statement, or sometimes as a deterrent against vandalism. Often the artists do these pieces free of charge, amazing considering the hours of work involved, planning, and the suprisingly high cost of spray paint.
One thing we learned which I find very interesting is that these street artists have the utmost respect for each other, talent, and quality art – you rarely see these beautiful pieces painted over or vandalized. This leaves only the weather to destroy them over time, meaning once again, this is a totally unique facet of the art industry, and a sad one at that. Absolutely astounding murals can disappear simply due to wear and tear.
Anyways, I don´t want to tell you too much about the tour – I highly recommend going if you can and experiencing it for yourself! The sheer size of the pieces are worth a visit. But here are a few highlights from the trip.
You can find BA street art tours here, as well as the books they have published on the subject. Lucia was a super fun and informative guide, and it´s a lovely way to pass an afternoon in the city.
A film about the most famous street artist of all time, Banksy, called Banksy Does New York, is worth a watch too.