Most people might think that in graffiti there is no art. They might even add that graffiti is only a way to damage the walls of a city. But as every other form of art, street art has the aim of expressing and spreading ideas.
Big metropolitan cities are the perfect scenario for street culture. Some of them have the honour of hosting works by famous graffiti artists like the renowned English Bansky.
When I decided to go to Lisbon, I read lots of travel guides and most of them roughly provided the same itinerary. But as every traveler knows, there is always a side of a city that only local people can show you. Thanks to local tips, I discovered another aspect of Lisbon: an artistic side through its great number of graffiti.
Armed with my notes, map and camera, I started my adventure and became a graffiti hunter for a day.
Historically, Lisbon has not what can be defined as a peaceful past; but after an earthquake, a tsunami and various fires, the city got back on its feet and started a period of reconstruction. Today Lisbon is a vortex of different styles and realities – one of them being its street art.
Just by walking through the city, many graffiti can be spotted. I quickly uncovered the perfect place to find street art in the bohemian Bairro Alto. In Bairro Alto, most of the graffiti are hidden and you have to focus your eyes on each corner of the streets. But when you finally find them and you notice the multitude of different styles that melt together, you realize how strong the street art tradition is in Lisbon.
It comes as no surprise that one of the most famous graffiti artists of the moment, Alexandre Farto, known under his artistic name Vhils, is Portuguese. His techniques are innovative and his works are astonishing.
Vhils is also one of the creators of the Crono Project, with the idea of bringing back to life old and abandoned buildings through graffiti art. Some results of this project can be seen in Av. Fontes Pereira de Melo, with its imposing, yet damaged buildings as living proof of how cities can benefit from this form of art.
They say to never judge a book by its cover, and no saying fits better Lisbon than the latter. The essence of the Portuguese capital rests under its surface; you will just need to dig a bit deeper.
Photo credits: Francesca Tedesco
All photographs are subject to copyright and may not be used without the consent of Francesca Tedesco