The Bogota graffiti scene has truly blown me away. There’s fantastic pieces of street art in every neighbourhood on everything from construction site murals to tags on lamp posts. I earlier took a Bogota Bike Tour to see some of central Bogota’s best pieces. They were spectacular. This sparked my interest to go into full-on graffiti hunting mode.
While I was in Rio I was entranced by the fantastic graffiti there. I didn’t think that anywhere else could rival the quality and quantity that was found in Rio de Janeiro. That was, until I arrived in Bogota and was able to explore the Bogota graffiti scene.
Crazy baby. Not sure what it means, but it’s cool!
With the interesting and unique history that Colombia possesses, there are many social and political themes for the city’s graffiti artists to explore. The drugs, violence, and politics of the country help to shape and mold the art that is sprayed onto walls all over Bogota.
Colombia’s government is unique for South America in that it is a fairly right-leaning government. The Colombian government is a staunch ally of the USA, and has been accepting US funds to fight the war on cocaine in their country for over 20 years. This tactic to fight the internal conflict has detractors. I saw one tag (unfortunately was in a cab and unable to capture it) that played with words in Spanish: USA nos usa. Which translates to the USA is using us.
“Don’t you forget. Register in your memory.”
The right-leaning Colombian government is a far cry from the socialist governments that are in power in neighbouring Venezuela, and Ecuador. As is true in graffiti around the world, political statements are made through their art-form. The opposition to some of the government’s policies are evident in many of the pieces of Bogota graffiti.
“We are reflections.”
The above piece of graffiti was outside of Universidad Nacional, or the National University. It’s Colombia’s largest, and best university; it’s also free to those who qualify to attend. This particular piece of graffiti is in reference to the fact that the Universidad Nacional has such a broad cross-section of Colombians who attend. Every sub-group of Colombians is represented within the walls of the university.
Some of the stencil pieces that are seen on Bogota’s walls are repeated around town. This gorilla was a piece that I had seen on a few walls. I like it.
“Now I can see it”
From what I’ve seen television is a common enemy in graffiti’s depictions. The media in Colombia is mostly right leaning, which may be part of the reason for the strong anti-television “announcement” seen here.
The amazing piece above was done on a construction site piece of plywood. I think that this artist would’ve been hired to paint this, because it was the only piece on a huge white wall. The only other thing on the wall was advertisement for the condo project.
On my graffiti journeys I find the most interesting things to be the statements made through the art-form. By nature, graffiti is an underground, subversive art-form, and is usually practiced by people with something to say in an uncommon fashion. This breeds statements that you may not otherwise encounter through the people you meet in your travels. Next time you’re traveling, look around; what are the city’s artists trying to tell you. It very well may be more interesting (and beautiful) than what is officially being said.
For more of my favourite street art pieces from around the world, check out my street art specific page Street Art Photography.