They pass you by almost unconsciously. A subtle note from the underground movement. Or a screaming message from the governing regime. Some discourage it. Other embrace it. And sometimes, it has become the signature of the destination itself. Broaden your horizons and let these street arts give you new insights into the life and history of the destination.
1 Havana, Cuba. The street art of Havana emanates from the Che Guevara cult. Raw, real, and full of political propaganda. Popping up everywhere from La Habana Vieja to Callejon de Hamel, the colourful paintings depict the communist legacy in a strong and heroic way. But they also showcase the silent underground movement. A subtle cry of help disguised in futuristic art and American pop culture.
2 Santiago, Chile. Travelling South America, you sooner or later discover that just about every major city has a rich supply of innovative street art. Santiago being one of the coolest. Something I realized on my way down the metro, facing a ten meter graffiti backdropping a spontaneous Zumba dance session. An interactive and colorful painting leaving no one unhappy.
3 Beirut, Lebanon. Starting off as a propaganda tool following the civil war, Beirut is filled to the brink of political satire and subverting messages. A silent revolution progressing on the city walls. The most impressive piece is found on a six-storey residential building on Hamra Street. But it’s the everyday works that build up the street art scene of Lebanon. Head to Gemmayze and take the steps up to Mar Mikhaël to find the trendy creative hub of the city.
4 Patagonia, Chile. It’s a different kind of wall art that meets your eyes in southern Chile. The paintings in Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas have a romantic, almost sentimental touch. Old fashioned city life and deep rooted cultural expressions, framed by the mystery of the surrounding nature. A memory of past times, bleached in the soft afternoon sunlight.
5 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. What happens if you mix street art with state sanctioned communism propaganda? Go to Ho Chi Minh City and find out. The idealized form of socialism has become such a common element of the city, it almost goes unnoticed. Beautifully hand crafted paintings, popping up in every public space available. Still using the Hammer and Sickle symbol, the wall art of Vietnam is as fascinating as unique.
6 Buenos Aires, Argentina. If you are looking for ultra creative street art, head to Buenos Aires. As one of few places that have legalized graffiti, the megacity has transformed into a mecca for painters all around the world. Since the turbulent period of dictatorship in the 1970s, the street art has progressed from political satire to a broad variety of subjects. Often just to put a big smile on your face.
7 Reykjavik, Iceland. The contrast between Iceland’s innocent nature and the rough, alternative nightlife in Reykjavik is surprising. So is the street art scene. With influences ranging from science fiction to social statements, the graffiti gives the city a New York kind of vibe. Large and small, on houses, vehicles, and pavements, always with a big love for the city.
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