Monday, March 21, 2011

Art Crimes in Ecuador?: graffiti is taken to a higher level

Graffiti on building walls in cities all over the world is nothing new, and one often sees wall cleaners/painters in front of buildings trying to erase and/or paint over the obtrusive markings. This graffiti is usually “created” with black spray paint and sometimes consists of a loving message or, in some cases, a string of vulgarities along with some sort of political message. In contrast, Ecuador’s graffiti artists have painted colorful artistic displays and used poetic wording to comment on life, love, the city, the country, living in Ecuador, whatever.

Thus, graffiti in Ecuador has been culturally acceptable in the past.

According to one blog website, there is a saying that “no wall is blank in Quito.” This sentence can mean two things. It could indicate that a blank wall is actually a canvas created to be painted, or it can mean that a blank wall is hard to find in Quito ( from Blank walls are, indeed, hard to find in Quito, and the artistic wall displays can be seen in other parts of the country, including Cuenca.

Unfortunately, though, the black spray paint graffiti has become more common in Ecuador, and one can see the cleaners/painters attempting to clean and/or repaint walls of buildings not meant to be slandered with a can of black spray paint.  

This blog will provide you with some photos of graffiti art in Ecuador – both the favored artistic version and the black spray paint version.

In both Cuenca and Quito (and other cities as well), the elementary schools are surrounded by walls which are glorious in their colorful artwork, with the block-long walls being constructed specifically for graffiti.  Here is one school about a block from our place.

The flower is glorious; I'm not sure if the black spray descending from the bottom of the leaf was a part of the original or if it was a later addition (probably the latter).  
"Think of those that are remaining" is the message on this poetically artistic graffiti wall.  One wonders if the hombre is considering those left behind, or if he's just thoughtlessly waiting for the bus.
This one is from Saraguro which prides itself on its corn harvesting.  The other elements in the picture are also symbolic of their culture. 

Another one from Saraguro displaying some of the cultural elements of the city.
We think this one means "Grow up, Believe, Create"

Who knows what this one says.
Some standard political graffiti:  "Study, Organize, and Fight: Affiliate with the Communist Youth" 

The Oil Institute of Ecuador (in Quito)
A graffiti sign across the street:  Resist!  Quito fuel is founded from the sun (?) 

Who knows what message this one is trying to impart, but it is graffiti that the building owner will no doubt paint over soon.

Mines pollute (mass production of graffiti it would seem)


  1. These walls are looking more attractive .. really graffiti make them more attractive.

  2. Yes, some graffiti makes them more attractive. Not all graffiti though.