Monday, 30 November 2009

Review, Part 2

Rod Palmer, “Street Art Chile”.

This publication takes you on a journey to discover a whole new and unique graffiti style as well as the exiting country of Chile itself. The reasons I decided to focus on the subject of South American street art is rather understandable: after discussing Banksy and British style and influences, I felt the need to compare and contrast those to something entirely different yet as engaging. Though out my experience with Chilean graffiti I was shocked, mesmerized and left thinking about issues I have not considered in depth before. It’s truly inspiring and ever since I discovered its power Chile, especially Santiago, made it to the top of my potential travel desires.

Firstly, I would like to mention briefly the initial Mexican influence on Chilean street art. It has been Mexico that encouraged the government of Chile to sponsor a series of propaganda murals to be painted in every state primary and secondary school of the country. After this project, that turned out to be satisfying to the authorities, a whole new movement of propaganda graffiti started. The competition between the two main candidates for president at the time "adored" the walls of the bigger cities of Chile.

Since when the political street art begun in the mid 1960s many new artists were born and Chilean art experienced a boom, which was only to be expected, as graffiti was one of the most exiting but also important means of expressing one’s political or moral believes. Nowadays, the influence and inspirations of modern day Chilean “graffiteros” changed its direction and focus on TV programs or music subcultures rather then criticism towards the polititians. Many cartoon characters, including Disneye's favourites are easily found though out the county depending on each region, with specific insensitivity in the capital. On the other hand, many of the graffiti crews try to popularise their preferable music style which is often westernised to a very high degree.

Piguan has to be named as one of my favourite local street artist. His bold and bright pieces seem to be influenced by European cubists as well as the classic artists of the Renaissance. What I like most about this artist is his choice of colour and imagery as well as the subject matters which in all their simplicity never fail to make an impression on the viewer. Freedom, love, sex and drunkenness are ones of his favourite subjects to spray about and all of those include an element of surrealism and fun that attracts the general public and encourages discussions. Text is one the very characteristic aspects of the artists work: his childlike lettering and a poor choice of vocabulary suggest a sense of carelessness and a certain type of grown up playfulness with compliments the visual imagery to a truly satisfying extent. Personally, I would recommend looking at his big city murals as well as the less known pieces form the downtown because it is only by studying the both that we are able to fully appreciate his unique style.

In my conclusion, I wish to underline the importance of graffiti in Chile. Its role seems to exceed what is commonly expected of street art. It breaks boundaries between art and politics, giving anyone a chance to fight for their own opinion and take part in the global argument. It makes Chileans feel included in the modern day discussions as well as it reminds of their country’s past.

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