Street Art in Bogota

We seek out street art wherever we go and I've written about it quite a bit - most recently in Berlin but also in Paris, Rome, Lisbon and London. Increasingly we're seeing that  street art tours are exploding - in the same way food tours did a few years ago and I was happy to see there's a donation only street art tour offered in Bogota.  You can get all the details at Bogota Graffiti.

I have to say we really liked this tour and I highly recommend it. It didn't have the intimacy of the artist led tour we took in Berlin but our expectations were lower and despite the large group, the guide did a good job of defining the different styles, artists and pieces in the contemporary Colombian context. He talked about the local scene, the changing place of street art in Bogota, the political context and the different variety of street art; graph, paste ups, murals and throw ups.
The sheer scope, variety and scale of the street art scene in Bogota is extraordinary. There is so much incredible work by both local and international artists and you can see it everywhere in Candelaria and along Calle 26 - which runs out to the airport. Incidentally, that's where Justin Bieber spray painted an amateurish graffiti memorial to his dead hamster under the watchful eyes of the police, in a city where a  police shooting and coverup  led to the death of a young  graffiti artist  only a few years before. 
Clearly the attitude to street art has changed and  the city is in the midst of an artistic explosion written all over its walls.  This has to be one of the great street art destinations and I highly recommend taking to tour to learn something about the local artists at work here. There are so many different influences in the pieces we saw from the natural world,  indigenous traditions and peoples, to Latin American imagery, hip hop  and various forms of politically influences works.
As always it's important to look up. Not all the interesting work is painted. In Candelaria there are a series of commissioned public sculptures on the upper floors of local buildings, including the precarious unicyclist on top of the wall below.
Below you can see the guide explaining the multiple meanings of an enormous political mural by the collective known as Toxicómano or "drug addict" which uses the imagery of advertising in a wonderfully subversive way to explore the corrupt intersection of arms, imperialism, money and politics in Colombia. The stencil images of insects, AK47s and hand grenade pineapple are by the well known local artists (and university professor) D.J. Lu, you can see a link to his Flickr page here.
Having been on the tour I understand why it's so highly rated on TripAdvisor, in part it's a reflection of the incredible wealth of work there is to see, but in addition it's the time, effort and knowledge these guys have put into constructing the tour. They could probably get away with a cursory overview, but instead they offer a really thoughtful, passionate, insightful and engaging  introduction to the Bogota street art scene in a  tour that takes the better part of three hours. 
The tour was the first thing we did in Bogota and it was a great introduction to the city. Plus one of the best things about street art is that it's always changing so you may well see something completely different!


Unknown said…
Great photos - took some of the same on our street art tour. There really is something special about South American street art. Bogotá, Medellín, Buenos Aires, Santiago and Valparaiso all have extraordinary street art.
Thanks Alan - We haven't been to Santiago and Valparaiso but I look forward to seeing them too. I have to say I love Instagram for street art, it's a great way to see the stuff that comes and goes.