One Man’s Graffiti…

It’s true, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And art is a subjective thing, determined by personal preference. I wasn’t always a fan of the ‘Graffiti Arts’. Those who wield a spray can in pursuit of the perfect surface on the street. Mostly, it’s just seemed unsightly or a scourge on an otherwise lovely neighborhood. But that has changed.

When you move from an area of the world that is new, always scrubbed and more suburban sprawl than urban grit, you expect everything to be shiny.  You can’t wrap your head around why anyone would take up a can of spray paint and write their initials on a wall near your home. Or on the roll down doors of the shop where you buy your fruit. It takes too much effort – and I’m essentially too lazy. Or perhaps just not artistically talented.

Sure, there’s Banksy in London. I’ve gone to Brick Lane to see some of his stuff. And there’s the artist in Paris, Invader, who does the tile art hearkening back to the 70’s and 80’s video games. But those are of a more elevated, celebrated ilk. The average street artist is a true stealthy pioneer. Laying his message through images and graphics that are unique to him, or her.

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We’ve lived here for 4 months now. And that’s long enough to begin to notice that we have a new graffiti artist. The person has a decidedly different style than our previous artist in residence. Jeff pointed it out right away when we were walking to the store recently. Then we started seeing their stuff on a few other doors.

Graffiti in Spain is just a thing. Especially in big cities. And it seems that the shop owners have decided to embrace the inevitability that their roll down doors – the eyelids of the city – will be tattooed with some sort of image. So many of them have hired their own graffiti artists to create messages that more closely reflect their brand. It looks cool and it fits in with the aesthetic.

My favorite is this one. The exterminator whose images of pestilence and message referencing ‘The Plague’ seems particularly on the nose. No ambiguity here.

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Some of the images can be seen across the city. The woman with multiple sets of eyes is everywhere. Sometimes she’s just a floating head. Sometimes attached to a griffin. That artist gets around. And the bird decrying ‘Street Art’ is also a frequent visitor to buildings in the old city.

The little guy with the telescope is everywhere on the bottom of buildings, sort of secretly placed there, just watching. He, along with some ‘little houses’ are messages I’ve yet to decode.

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Then there are those that seems to be expressing a preference for a certain lifestyle. These tend to be more detailed so the viewer can’t miss their meaning. They’re less traditional graffiti and more traditional art – in my mind.

And finally, in the school of the greats – there seems to be this guy. He’s everywhere here. The stealthy robot artist who is sometimes seen spraying at other people’s work or attacking a political figure with his spray can. But he’s always got his big artist’s heart right in the center.

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My appreciation for street art has gone up exponentially since I’ve lived here. Much like my appreciate for the work of a great tattoo artist. Perhaps its because I possess neither of these talents and I appreciate the rogue raw nature of their work. And while I love going to art museums and seeing the master works of fabled painters, it’s nice to know I can walk out my door for coffee and enjoy someone’s artistic expression in my own backyard.

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