Review and some perceptions of graffiti in Buenos Aires

Review and some perceptions of graffiti in Buenos Aires

WRITTEN BY: Lorena Sierra

The sense of art changes over time according to the context of each place. Hip-hop graffiti in Buenos Aires has also done it.

What is can be today graffiti can be also muralism? How to define it now and how it has been defined over time?

Strokes of different shapes, colors and figures that end up mixing without being planned, letters that many do not understand and protests that others ignore. Men or women at night running near the train tracks, others on the contrary so diurnal touching a door, requesting a space in the space of others to leave there their trail, their forms and to conclude ... their signature. An image or text that will remain on a wall until the rain, weather or other hand decides to cover it. This is graffiti and mural art. Two concepts that many artists or writers can define in different ways but that always leave a message and even if they do not have letters or a defined structure, they are established in the mind of the person passing by.

In many cities such as Melbourne, New York, Madrid or Valparaíso there are graffiti, street art and murals of all kinds. Some with areas to paint legally and others painted at night without any authorization are all different forms of expression of people who want to claim, leave a message; others may impact, or collect different places painted throughout the city, photographs, experiences and meetings.

In different points of the city of Buenos Aires, there is a variety of painted walls, even the curtains of many locals have a trace of someone who passed by. A signature, some dedication, political protests or just an aerosol stroke. There are places in which they have paid a renowned artist to leave their creative work or there are places where a lyricist who was paid has passed by leaving a phrase that says: "Vote for X or Y candidate" done in graffiti style

Graffiti? Art? Muralism? Inclusive visual tool? 

Although the beginnings of graffiti date back to demonstrations or protests with political meaning, today they have become forms of expression with different purposes. From art, hip-hop, the appropriation of a territory by a football fan, the construction of a hidden identity that manifests itself in a signature called tag, the expression of a thought and even an advertisement.

Since the 60's graffiti was a manifestation that left on the walls denunciations, thoughts and opinions. Over time, it acquired different aesthetic senses and later became associated with hip-hop. A form of urban expression that emerged in New York as a response to the oppression experienced by Africans, the expression hip-hop groups graffiti, Dj, Mc and Break dance.


According to Brian Gray a Chilean anthropologist author of the book Toy that talks about graffiti and muralism in Chile. ¨The graffiti can be defined as a type of painting embodied in public spaces without explicit message, but with aesthetic and symbolic references alluding to the alter ego of its author. A graffiti is basically a signature and an abstract pictorial exercise, since the graffiti artist is someone who writes letters without communicational purposes, but experimental and self-affirming.

Over time the different forms of graffiti were modified and mixed in everyday spaces, also the forms and techniques were changing. In the 90s in the city of Buenos Aires the form of protest was maintained through the walls and in turn the different writers linked to hip-hop were expanding their spectrum in curtains, bridges and subways. All with different messages. Many encrypted in a language that only they understand. (initials, acronyms, nicknames, signatures)

For the year 2001 not only the walls spoke. The political demonstrations left and currently continue to leave messages in the city, while the subways and trains began to fill with aerosol and signatures not only of Argentine writers linked to the hip-hop style. Arriving in Buenos Aires in 2012 and painting was an objective that any graffiti artist had to fulfill. Through him also established links, friends and social circles that revolved around the so-called crews.

For many the real meaning of graffiti is linked to illegality or the audacity to paint a difficult place, for others simply the value is in leaving something of itself in a place where anyone can see it. Many prefer the nights to start looking for specific places, trains and abandoned cars; walls of factories or advertisements. Others, on the other hand, prefer to make large pieces and ask permission for aesthetics to maintain a degree of neatness that can not be obtained so easily when it is painted illegally.

Nowadays, graffiti artists, writers and artists, besides leaving traces of spray or colors in many busy areas, build with their actions a street style that has appeared in recent years in different urban artistic expressions, which provoke a mixture of art in spaces , protest, signatures, images or large letters that make them participants in the everyday universe of those who simply pass through the city.

Graffiti creates spaces among young people, through conventions they themselves perform, at night meetings, at hip-hop events or even at police stations where some of them are caught by the authorities. It does not matter without them being artists, graffiti artists, or simply fans of the subject who sometimes meet to paint long walls. There they are all the same. No matter the area, the crew they belong to, the music they listen to or how often they paint, they all revolve around kilometers of walls that are filling with color while they are intervening a villa, an area near a river, at train tracks or a busy area.

Currently some graffiti are badly viewed. How to define which are acceptable? Two years after the golden years of graffiti in 2012, specifically in 2014, certain policies were implemented that claim to clean and criminalize "vandalized by graffiti" In that golden age, trains and subways were all painted almost in their entirety . Some graffiti artists had violent disputes with the security personnel, with time many of them had judicial processes, investigations and seizures of photos, paintings and information of the other crews.

The incorporation of article 80 to the law 1742 that was approved in July 2014 that says: Whoever stains or dirtifies by any means goods of public or private property, is sanctioned with one (1) to fifteen (15) days of work of public utility or two hundred ($ 200) to three thousand ($ 3,000) pesos of fine.
The sanction is doubled when the action is carried out from a motorized vehicle or when it is carried out on statues, monuments, religious temples, educational and hospital establishments, buildings or public places, stations and subway or train carriages.
In the case of privately owned property, the action is dependent on a private instance, except in the case of religious temples.

 What for example many did not take into account was that the large number of graffiti artists who paint illegally are minors, also that many of the authorities tried to do justice by their own hands by giving them strong threats, hurting them or even locking them up for a few hours in police stations while some responsible adult was taking care of them or while creating a file with their documents. This was one of the most common reasons why many graffiti artists today claim to fear when painting a train in illegality.

Others continue at night ... jumping walls, escaping from the security guards but leaving something of them that makes them feel important, not only for the boldness of painting, but for the different aesthetic sense and the brand or the message in the territory that reflects its own identity and is reflected in the tag.

Under its different forms, whether legal or illegal, the movement grows more and more many of them now prefer to ask permission to paint calm, perform live graffiti at cultural events, concerts or even give workshops in neighborhoods, hip-hop graffiti . Others have created foundations as is the case of pinta argentina foundation or hip-hop culture events in Recoleta cultural center, hip-hop family in la boca neighborhood or living walls in Lomas de Zamora.
Free events for the community where legal street painting is articulated with other values ​​such as personal improvement, learning and inclusion, creating a phenomenon of public expression for those who are part of it.

The look of a graffiti artist more.

Street art, graffiti, mural ..

The big difference between what is graffiti and what is Street art.

While Street art is what covers all types of street art, graffiti tries to break with that.

In what way does he do it?

You have two parts of graffiti, the legal vision and the illegal vision are going to have voices in favor that are going to say that graffiti is graffiti because it is illegal and voices in favor that they are going to say that graffiti has to be legal, it has to be all permissive.

In graffiti what is mainly worked is graphic design, mainly Lettrism, letter and context. Graffiti emerges in the street and if the calligraphy is analyzed from previous years, the message is always on the wall of the city or the street from the Egyptians, the Romans, the Greeks .. it is from much earlier and is evolving. Very different is the muralism that is something more pictorial, more artistic that breaks with all the previous one nobody invented anything

Everything was already invented

Graffiti on trains is not unique, it's like a publicity. The train is the support that goes on end and graffiti is there to be seen, graffiti seeks to be seen Street art, also works in the city but is something more pictorial that goes on the side of muralism, Street art is to change the name muralism using graffiti techniques, we know that muralism has certain techniques, certain styles, certain artistic movements that has a school behind, has a formation, a whole history.

Street art also has two legal and illegal ones.

The stencil for example, is street art. It is not a movement. The stencil is a technique that has been used since many years ago bansky for example, it has been visualized or viralized with more force does not mean that there was not before street art.

Something more social

In the graffiti arises for a social class, breaks with the elite, breaks with the bourgeoisie, breaks with the laws, breaks everything does not matter if the graffiti is illegal or legal is breaking with that vision of private property, while that muralism or street art is nothing more than an art taken by the elite.

Street art can incorporate lyrics, but that would be lettrism, not graffiti.

Graffiti, whether illegal or legal, has a style, has a technique, has a way of doing it and processes that Street art does not.

The type of letter, the distortion of the letters, the power, the details, the effects, the reason with which they do it and also includes the social class.

If I have all the guita (money) in the world to buy all the most expensive cans, I can make a huge mural and they paid for it and I was hired by the city government. There I stop being graffiti. It does not matter that you do graffiti you are already doing Street art Because you are managed by an elite, on the other hand graffiti breaks with that, it does not matter if you asked the neighbor's permission, but if you are doing it for you. It is the graffiti to do it for you, to do it with a technique with a process and to maintain that living essence of graffiti.

In their own definitions of graffiti they always turn out to be positions that each individual has about the action and the way of doing it. The clear thing is that this has generated other ways that work to legitimize graffiti as art regardless of whether it is legal or illegal


Deja una respuesta

Tu dirección de correo electrónico no será publicada. Los campos obligatorios están marcados con *