Our first steps into the wide world of the “grafiteros”.
When you walk for the first time in Bogotá, one of the things that strike you most is the number of graffitis covering the walls around you. Especially in the La Candelaria district. And the more you look at those graffitis, the more you will discover new ones, to then realize they are everywhere. It is not only graffitis, which would consist of anything written on a vertical surface, but any form of art covering the walls and which can go from mere tags to glued sculptures including frescos and stencils. You can feel a vibrant energy here and a will to either denounce, celebrate, testify or remember depending on the artist and collective.
When in most cities in the world grafittis are considered ugly and destructive, we were surprised by the popularity and respect they get here. Lots of shops actually ask “grafiteros” to paint their walls in order to either decorate it or prevent it from being invaded by other tags. And inhabitants of the city will most of the time let the artists use their walls as the paintings happen to protect them from the deterioration of time. You actually get to understand how much people respect graffitis as a form of art when you discover that some of these graffitis are actually made (with the authorisation of the owner) on houses that are over 300 years old and that are classified as part of the city’s heritage.
Since a couple of years and after the death of several grafiteros while drawing in the streets, the city of Bogotá has tended to respect and even protect this form of art. This has been the beginning of something new and way more confortable for the grafiteros as they could now create by day instead of hiding in the night. This gave them comfort, better quality of work (aerosols tend to not like the cold) and recognition by people passing by.
But not all graffitis will survive over time and tags will most likely quickly be recovered with paint by the officials who will carefully make sure to avoid touching some of Rodez, Pez, or DjLu’s works for example, as they have demanded several days of work and may stay for many years.
But walls tend to break and this will sign the end of a graffiti. This is the case of one of Rodez’ works we have seen and which should be destroyed soon as the shop to whom the wall belongs wants to have it reconstructed. But then an other grafitero will come along as they always do!
If you too want to discover Bogotá through its graffitis just go book a graffiti tour and hop on for a 2h30 tour around the cities best works of art! We did the one called Bogotá Graffiti Tour and loved it, as well as the concept which is : You pay for what you think it’s worth (although they are gonna give you a figure but who cares, you give what you like)