The Colombian Street Art Scene
Colombian graffiti has become an integral part of the country’s cultural and artistic scene in recent years, with travellers flocking to major cities like Bogota, Cartagena, and Medellin to tour their street art highlights and marvel at the colourful works of the country’s top artists. While there are hundreds – quite possibly thousands – of graffiti artists working in Colombia today, there are certain names that always crop up when discussing Colombian street art. Here’s a sneak peek at some of Colombia’s most important graffiti artists and where you can discover their work…
With his arresting combination of ancestral and indigenous imagery with bright colours and large-scale murals, Guache has become not only one of Colombia’s most important street artists, but one of the most recognizable in South America and Europe, where his works adorn the walls of many large cities. His portraits of Indigenous people and their traditions shine a powerful light on the plight faced by many of Colombia’s native peoples, as well as drawing attention to their unique and vibrant cultures. His work can be seen throughout Bogota, but some of his most prominent works can be spotted in the streets of La Candelaria in central Bogota.
Colombian-Mexican artist Stinkfish came to the world of street art by wandering the streets of Bogota, the city where he was raised, following no route but where his feet took him. He discovered forgotten places and forgotten people and incorporated these discoveries into his iconic art. His method of photographing people and then depicting them in his murals (with their distinctive trademark yellow faces) brings life to the streets in which he paints and gives a sense of immortality to people who might otherwise be forgotten. Stinkfish’s works can be seen all across the globe, but the best place to see them is La Candelaria and, of course, the abandoned rum distillery in the Colombian jungle taken over by #ArtDistilled and Dictador Art Masters.
Erre’s eye-catching political stencils are inspired by both her love of punk music and culture and her strong conviction and desire for change and social justice. Her imagery often incorporates images of bombs or explosions and expresses her desire to see the current system blown apart and rebuilt. Visitors to the streets of Getsemani in Cartagena will surely have admired her large mural along the graffiti street of Calle 29 near Plaza Trinidad and some of her newest works can also be admired on the abandoned walls and distillery tanks of #ArtDistilled in northern Colombia.
Although Toxicomano is a publicist and graphic designer by trade, he is most famous as an incendiary and political muralist in the streets of Colombia’s major cities. Although he has also painted on the streets of many European and North American cities, the walls of Bogota remain his primary canvas and his principal means of expressing his unique philosophy. His inspiration comes from the punk scene, the world of graphic design, and street culture. His giant murals tackle such issues as corruption, social justice, and the Colombian conflict, and can be seen on the streets of Bogota, Cartagena, and Medellin. Toxicomano was also an important contributor to the world’s most unique graffiti museum in the Colombian jungle that is #ArtDistilled.
Rodez, along with his two fellow street artist children Nomada and Malegria, has been painting the streets of Bogota for many years now. His work is best recognized by his distinctive ‘multiple eyes’ style and his work is some of the most prominent on the streets of La Candelaria (although some of his most enduring works have since been painted over due to some stringent new anti-graffiti initiatives). As one of Colombia’s most respected graffiti artists (as well as being the father of two of the most important up-and-comers) he is seen as something of a father-figure within the Colombian street art scene. Eagle-eyed graffiti spotters will be able to see a mural created by the father and son(s) team in the heart of La Candelaria in Bogota.