The seaside city of Valparaiso, about two hours northwest of Santiago, immediately welcomes you with colour, vibrant scenes and explosions of creativity. Recommended by a friend, who had regrettably skipped this underrated tourist-friendly city, Valparaiso ended up becoming one of my favourite cities in South America and was nothing short of street art heaven.
Chilean artists, musicians and writers have made the bohemian city their home for years, evident on almost every street mural, rare 3D wall art and multicoloured houses. They’ve changed the city dramatically, with many international street artists now being invited (and paid) to live and/or work in Chile to contribute to this vibrant city. Although graffiti street art is illegal in the rest of the country, there is no regulations that explicitly outlaw graffiti here, witnessed nowadays with the vibrancy of the city.
There are growing tales of friendly ‘graffiti wars’ that are taking place in the streets; with artists trying to fight for the best position and creative ideas, just to be recognised. To appreciate some of this incredible public art, we took an unmissable 3 hour walking tour led by American expat, Al. Roaming through the hills of Valparaiso, we learnt about the unique techniques which originated from here, unwritten graffiti laws, as well as the political and historic meaning behind the artworks. Local artist Inti Castro was a standout for me, with Charquipunk and Teo also demonstrating extraordinary talent; mentally and physically.
Whilst on the tour, we were fortunate to run into Valparaiso’s graffiti power couple, Jekse and Cines, who form Un Kolor Distanto. They stopped working immediately (creating one of the largest graffiti murals in South America at the time!) came down from their 12 storey scaffolding, and spent an hour teaching us how to tag our names and their spray painting techniques. Evident, once again, how passionate and proud the Chilean artists are, so willing and giving of there time.
It has been exceptionally difficult to capture Valparaiso in few words and photographs, however I hope that I have given you a glance into this wonderfully vibrant city and the passionate Chilean artists behind it all!
Photos and Blog written for GraffitiStreet by our lovely Ozzy Jess Beavon, confirmed lover of street art and will travel anywhere to find it!