If you still think you have to go into a museum to enjoy art and culture, then you need to visit these outdoors urban museums!!! Street art is a means of expression that has gained incredible attention in recent decades. By truly looking at it, you will learn a lot about the culture and people of a place.
In South America, street art is often used as a form of protest and is prohibited in many places. Nonetheless, urban artists keep finding their way for blowing our minds with wonderful art pieces. Here are our top South American destinations for enjoying some kick-ass street art.
One of the more progressive cities in this regard, Buenos Aires allows street art as long as the buildings’ owners are ok with it. This has resulted in a thriving street art scene, including local and international artists’ contributions. Some focus on political matters, while others simply serve tribute to local celebrities. The best areas to spot some top-tier street art are the trendy neighborhoods of San Telmo and Palermo, as well as other less touristy areas –you can get a local to guide you to these.
A few years ago, Buenos Aires Street Art collaborated with the Google Cultural Institute on the Google Street Art Project. You might want to check it out! https://streetart.withgoogle.com/en/world-collection
Rio de Janeiro
Since it’s legalization in 2009, street art has experiences a sprawl in Rio de Janeiro, serving as a fantastic storytelling tool and literally changing the face of Rio, injecting heaps of color and life into it. As in Buenos Aires, this inviting atmosphere has developed in a great array of colorful murals throughout the city, both by local and international artists. If you are keen on experiencing a color blast and learning a bit more about the local culture, head to Rio’s Santa Marta, the Jardim Botânico and Santa Teresa. There are also tours available, in case you’d like to see some of the street art in the lesser safe areas.
Santiago de Chile
Santiago is considered by many as one of the best cities on Earth for enjoying top-notch street art. With a very arty feel, Santiago features pieces by famous foreign street artists and also internationally renown Chilean artists, such as Inti Castro. The styles range from political satirical cartoons, to conceptual art. Some of the areas where you can go to see the greatest murals are Barrio Bellavista, Barrio Brasil and Barrio Lastarria. While it is officially illegal, authorities don’t interfere much, as long as the activity is confined to certain areas of the city.
Valparaíso – “Mini Berlin of Street Art”
Valparaiso is already a colorful place by itself, but when you add street art to the picture, it’s a true feast. This laid-back seaside town is really serious about street art, but in a good way. It’s even encouraged, as long as it’s creative. As in Santiago, there are neighborhoods where it is “allowed”. Head to Barrio Puerto, Cerro Alegre, Cerro Carcel, Van Buren and Cerro Polanco for the ultimate street art experience. There are also tours available for all you graffiti-nerds.
Although fairly newer in this matter, Lima is rapidly making its way into the international street art scene, with local artists, such as Eliot Tupac, being recognized world-wide. There are several areas of this huge metropolis where walls are being injected with color, displaying the most wonderful murals featuring portraits of beloved local artists and other subjects. The bohemian-hipster neighborhood of Barranco is probably one of the best areas to stroll along and admire some fine large-scale graffiti. The historic city center also has attracted street artists, who have painted huge murals for the locals’ delight. However, the currect mayor has painted over several of these –with its political party’s color, coincidentally-, seeing street art as almost vandalism. The response of Lima’s street artists community has been: “They erased one, we’ll paint a thousand”. So, lucky for us, it seems like there will be much more art on the streets of the Peruvian capital for us to enjoy!!