I had to stop for bit to just watch, and take in the moment. The colors were everywhere. Around any corner, on everything from an abandoned house to the façade of a small shop. The street art in Bogota isn't this kind of crappy stuff that I know from home where it seems like it is more the adenine kick of doing something illegal that counts than the art in itself. Bogota's street art was high quality art!
The street art is like a natural integrated part of the urban life in the Colombian capital, adding a lot more color, life and personality to the old colonial buildings. Not that the buildings in Candelaria actually need that much of color-adding. They are pretty colorful in themselves.
However, the street art adds an uniqueness and modern buzz to these old buildings. They are not just historical memories, they are an active part of the modern life. And from my first encounter, Bogota's street art completely stole my heart.
I had left the hostel in the historic center of Bogotá, La Candelaria, without any actual plan. I like doing that when I just arrive to a new place; just scroll around without purpose. Since then my camera had been on hard work, and various time I had to suppress an amazed "wow".
I just had to stop to take it all in. I think, I must have had a silly smile on my face because two police men kindly smiled mumbling buenos días to me. Didn't they notice all these amazing pieces of art?
There is all kind of different street art in Bogotá...
I had not excepted to find something like this. Well, I actually don't know what I had excepted of Bogota. It was my first stop on the Latin American continent. Until now I had only been to Cuba. And in Cuba, you can not expect to find street art like this. But for sure, I had not excepted to find this color heaven of street art. Later I was to find out that high-quality street art isn't that rare in Latin America.
A garage with a massive dragon on the wall - what is not to like?
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Legalizing street art
After doing a bit of research, I found out that the huge amount of impressive street art is due to an governmental legalization for painting in the public space. The artists don't have to be afraid of police or governmental fees, they can just freely paint in daylight.
Or freely, freely... Apparently, they need an authorization from the property owner before they can paint. In some way fair; how would you feel if you suddenly woke up with a huge painting on your house?
Okay, I wouldn't actually mind!
Street art with a political touch
Most of the paintings are not just beautiful art, they are also a comment to relevant debates in the Colombian society.
They center around themes such as the country's violent past, indigenous communities rights and modern society's relationship with nature.
"Memoria"... Memory for the victimas of the years long internal armed conflict
A comment to modern society's abuse of natural resources...
"Esperanza"... Hope... For a better future...
More street art on Calle 26
Then I returned to Bogota after 3 weeks around Colombia, I discovered a whole new collection of street art away from Candelaria's touristic buzz. On Calle 26 most of the political street art is centered. Actually most of the pictures above are from there.
I was staying at a private home through AirBnB (btw. highly recommendable!) on the massive Calle 26 which leads from the airport toward the city center. And here walls upon walls were covered in amazing pieces of art:
How I wish that more cities with boring grey walls and commercial bill boards would follow the example of Bogota, and let the artistic spirit free!
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... And then finally; some of the works are just small comments that make you smile...
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See all my photos of street art from Bogota here: