Graffiti in Granada

17 11 2007

Last year we went to Spain for the first time. We wanted something both mentally and physically relaxing… so we went walking the the Sierra Nevada foothills with Explore!. The trip was wonderful but that’s not what this post is about (although you can see the pictures here). The trip ended with a few days in Granada. It was with some trepidation that we drove into the city as we had just spent a week and a half walking from village to village – and up a mountain – and didn’t want to return to the frantic activity of a city. Fortunately Granada is such a fantastic city that we soon adjusted to the life and culture but that’s not what this post is about (although you can see the pictures here).

No, what this post is about is the graffiti in Granada.

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Even from that first drive into the city the extent and quality of the street art was apparent. This was something of a – good – shock as it was not anything we had previously considered as being part of the place, the Alhambra yes, but not graffiti. The walk down from the Albaicín (the old Moorish quarter) to the centre took a long, long time as we just had to keep stopping to admire the quality of the art and take pictures:

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Back in the centre we found this especially beautiful example:

Quite astonishingly beautiful graffiti

At the time we could only speculate on its meaning – which appeared to have a humanist message – as we could not read Spanish but after posting this on Flickr I had this comment:

“Its on the wall of Bar Candela. In the Realejo Neighbourhood. Granada. Its author is ‘el niño de las pinturas’ (‘the kid of the paintings’), probably the most famous graffiti artist in Granada.”

There is more about the artist here (again, helps if you can read Spanish but even if you can’t the pictures are spectacular). He also designed the second album sleeve for the anarchist musical collective Ojos de Brujo (which can be seen here).

Metallic cat and friend

Of course the question with graffiti is always “is it art or just vandalism?”. Well, in Granada I’d argue that is it art, but then I don’t live there and I may well feel very different if someone sprayed the wall of our village hall (er, if it was anything like these it would be a huge improvement). The ArtCrimes site is a massive graffiti resource but whether graffiti can still be considered radical or subversive is debatable when a search for books on Amazon gives nearly 700 results and you can even study it at Yale. And then there is the genius that is Banksy (you really can’t do a post on graffiti without him) and a recent auction of his work (ten pieces and a print) which raised £800K.

Let us know your views.

Above are just selections of our Granada graffiti pictures. More can be found here and here and there is a Graffiti Granada Flickr group as well.

— words Paul

— pictures Elizabeth and Paul




3 responses

17 11 2007

I guess it can depend on the graffiti themselves. A couple of years ago someone wrote ‘Penny Lane’ in what I can only describe as this billowing, curvy cursive on the roadside wall of the Penny Lane rail bridge. It was perfectly centred and done in purple and gold; to me, it looked amazing. Then the city council came along and covered it up with grey paint.

18 11 2007

Another set of excellent photos and thanks also for the links to other resources, especially the graffiti flickr group. I’m astonished by the quality of some of the artwork on display there. Art or vandalism? It’s a tricky question. Tagging is usually plain ugly and unimaginitive and falls into the realm of vandalism. For me, the Granada images are undoubtedly works of art. There’s also the social commentary aspect to graffiti, both with images and also satirical comments scrawled onto signs or advertisements. You don’t see the latter so much any more. I remember someone had scrawled “You’re” onto a “Welcome to Northamptonshire” (sorry!) road sign on the M45 many years ago. Another graffiti artist wrote “Bunch of pricks” on a political party election poster depicting a hedgehog. But I don’t recall seeing anything that’s made me laugh out loud for a long while.

15 05 2009


I just returned from Granada. I agree. Graffiti is art and it makes Granada Granada. I can’t imagine the city with graffiti.

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