Graffiti has evolved from work of an idle mind to piece of art. It is no longer just looked as an act of vandalism but the reflection of culture, history, political views and pulse of the city. In fact some of the city municipalities have dedicated walls to showcase the ‘street art’, which enhances the aesthetic appeal and thus commercial value of their city to tourists. Street artists use this canvas to raise awareness of social / political issues or just to showcase their personal artwork. Whatever be the reason, it is hard for tourists to miss the beat of city, when you encounter one.
Here is a list of 15 places where you can witness such street art, after this, you’ll never look at these places the same way again.
This Australian city counts stencils, paste-ups and murals as street art but has criminalized tagging and graffiti. But that hasn’t stopped a rebellious group of people to engage in art which may be illegal, but awe-inspiring nonetheless, a lot of others have used stencils too, a legal form of expression. The city of Melbourne encourages street art on buildings to create an enriching environment, should the owners of the property agree. To find yourself surrounded by Street art in the Stencil Capital of the World, head to Hosier Lane, Union Lane, Caledonian Lane or 21 Degraves street.
Image: Michael Golloti
Where: The Russian Federation
If Moscow landed up on this list because of one person, it’d have to be P183, the artist dubbed as “Russia’s own Banksy”, the man who spent countless nights in detention for his art, had started to create without fear ever since the authorities in Moscow negated laws criminalizing street art. The Late P183 created art with political undertones which is relevant even today, given that he upheld strong values against consumerism, it is evident in his art. To catch a glimpse of street art in Moscow, head to the outskirts and abandoned factories and your eyes will be rewarded.
A vibrant city like Istanbul would’nt be complete without the vibrant souls that add color to it. Istanbul’s street art scene is discreet, noticeable only in a few parts of the city, but that doesn’t lessen the impact of the art on the city. The city of Istanbul has had its differences with artistic rebels, notably when it comes to issues of adding color and beautifying a city with such heritage. The aim of the artists here is not, of course, to ruin Turkish heritage, but to let arts from different times meet and coexist in Istanbul. Believe it or not, there’s an app on Street Art in Istanbul too! It recommends that you should see Istiklal Street, Karakoy, Kadikoy, and Tunel to get the best of art here.
Where: West Bank, Palestine
War torn Palestine has been under strife and constant exposure to violence. Their history of conflict with the Israelis is millennia old, but that doesn’t seem to stop artists on the West Bank from sending out politically flared (and painful) messages across through art. Travel to Palestine has certain complications and requires immense courage right now at least, but if you’re game, head to Bethlehem and see their side of the wall, and story. Tear-jerking art exists, and we believe it has found it’s place in Palestine.
Image: Jon Eickmeier
Where: South Africa
Many tourists flock to South Africa for wildlife, extreme sports, and what-not, consistent with such colorful memories, is colorful art, dashes of color appear throughout the city. Art is like the wind here, it’s the only thing that never changes, and that brings about a positive, binding vibe to the city. Sure, there’s the mischievous attention seeking art here, but the works that appeals to everyone most are the creations of Faith47 (and Freddy Sam). Her art, is focused on conveying co-operation of the South African people, engaging with concepts of freedom, and equality at large.
Image: fatcap.com (Faith47)
This has got to be the most colorful town in the World. With over 20 huge murals all over the city, Lodz has rejuvenated itself with an injection on energy, and color. Artists from around the world have contributed to the creation of a colorful town, which inevitably, has allowed for an influx of travellers. This place is a must visit! It can be covered in a couple of hours and while you witness art on a such a grand scale, you’ll encounter friendly people too!
Image: Marco Crupi
Portuguese tourism recently has been aimed at communicating a linguistically and visually appealing culture. Art here, has exploded, it wasn’t there yesterday but it magically appeared today. Art in Lisbon is special simply because of it’s scale, old tattered buildings have become the canvas for people to show off their skills at making burglars, animals, and other abstract creations that’ll let your imagination run wild. Portugal’s urban renewal sees a key role being played by art, it’s restricted to old buildings, but then again, there’s plenty of them to make art on.
Paris has been the playground to artists like Banksy, Shepard Fairey and even their own Space Invader. It is an obvious choice for artists because this is the place that lets creativity and imagination reach it’s peak, the fashion capital of the world looks fashionable thanks to the creations of anonymous artists. Think about it this way, won’t you want a fancy background for the Hermes clothes you just bought?
Of course, that’s not all that Parisian street art is about, Paris’ underground has the art that depicts it’s dark side, while there’s your fair quota of commercial art too.
This place had a fair reason to paint and express emotions and ideas on a wall, the Berlin Wall (all that remains of it) is the place to go if you want to see German emotions unfurl, from graphic imagery to subtle resilience, Berlin’s street art scene has you covered. The best places to spot some whacky art: Mitte, Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, the most popular piece of art for locals is the Kreuzberg Spaceman! Who knew there was such art hidden in the uber urbanized centre of Germany?
Where: The UK
This city has given birth to the greatest street artist that lived, Banksy. His playground and canvas were the streets of London, where his stencils of humans and animals magically appeared and disappeared over time. London has seen politically influenced humor when it comes to street art, and the best way to witness this is of course, by checking out the works of Banksy, the works that remain. You can easily trace his art on a map, this place is only second to New York when it comes to street art.
Colombia is cursed with a reputation of human and drug trafficking, it’s reputation has become such that people tend to avoid travelling to Colombia, it is only “Daredevils” who dare to go here, but much of that, like any preconception, is false. Columbia is in the books of art history, more importantly, street art history. After much reform and struggle, Colombia has changed it’s outlook on street art, after decriminalizing it, promoting it and making it a “touristy” thing, Colombia is no more the anti-self expression land you once thought of it to be.
Art here tells the story of it’s people, addressing historic issues of aggressive military dictatorship to the economic crisis of 2001 to the Kirchner era, Argentina’s history is recorded better on murals than it is in textbooks. While media may be influenced in ways more than one, art here tells us the story of the people. It is unifying, large and of course colorful. Argentine tolerance of art in its various forms has helped it bloom into what it is today. Though technically street art remains illegal, authorities look the other way, unless the messages are extremely inhuman or explicit.
A place with streets like “Batman Alley”, and a place that has given birth to the best soccer players in the world, there ought to be some other wacky things around São Paulo that seem noteworthy and mentionable. One of them is the street art here, we suggest you keep an eye out for the space invaders spread across the city, these little space creatures are easy to miss, but they give the city uniformity. Street art here varies not just in the message, but where it is conveyed, drainage holes, pillars, walls, anything an artist can color, is colored.
Image: NY Times
Where: The US
Los Angeles is the city of the West, perfect bodies, California sun, famous people and what not. It is overrun by artists, and art here is varies from sanctioned legal works to gang graffiti you might find while walking down the ‘hood. LA’s art scene is mostly just deep messages hidden in words and pictures, from simple “Love Me”s to “People like the things that are pretty, they think they’re deep” to recreations of politicians in an artistic way, LA sure packs the heat, literally and figuratively. If art is about sending a message, LA is loud and clear.
New York City
Where: The US
A city overrun by people is on the world map as the world’s economic, social and cultural capital. NY has been the inspiration for many works of art, and naturally so, some of it is found on the walls of this city. Lady Liberty sure loves her art, if you visit, add this to your to-do list and be sure to go to places other than visiting The Statue of Liberty, Times Square, 5th Avenue and other attractions.
You’ll find art everywhere, Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, wherever you go, there’s going to be a splash of color that makes you smile. Pictured here is a vibrant depiction of the popular kiss between a woman and her man, a sailor who returned from the sea. It’s the power of New York, adding color to the dullest of things.