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.
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:
Back in the centre we found this especially beautiful example:
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).
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.
— words Paul
— pictures Elizabeth and Paul