Street art Santiago, Chile by Lord K2 has landed at the GraffitiStreet HQ and after a quick flick through the pages my first impressions of the book tell me this will be a decent read! So I leave the GS team in the studio, make a brew, and venture out into the sunshine to work (relax) and read about my favourite subject.
Lord K2 is a stencil street artist and photographer whose new book ‘Street Art Santiago, Chile’ documents Santiago’s underground art scene. Having built upon his knowledge travelling through Latin America, Lord K2 first studied stencil graffiti when he lived in Buenos Aires and soon became part of the urban art scenes of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Bogotá. During his travels through latin America Lord K2 finds himself seduced by the underground art of Santiago.The place inspired Lord K2 to document his discovery and share the lives and exceptional art he found with the rest of the world.
“…Nothing had prepared me for the progressive, vibrant street art of Santiago, Chile. Tucked away in the Andes, the Chilean capital seems cut off from the rest of the world. I had expected it would be a short stay. But when I first walked the streets, I found a treasure trove of graffiti.” Lord K2
This certainly is an impressive book, with over two hundred images, capturing the diverse and striking street art of Santiago, and eighty unfiltered interviews from within the scene. This offers the reader a rare insight into the underground community and lends a voice to the local artists.
The book takes us through the political history of Santiago as we read first hand encounters from Chin Chin who was one of the founders of the ‘Ramona Parra‘ Brigades in the 1960s, a muralist brigade of the Communist Party of Chile. Along other members of the Brigade, such as the artist Roberto Matta, they painted murals with political and social messages and supported Salvador Allende’s political campaign towards victory. Here Chin Chin describes himself as a labourer and not a muralist.
“We are not artists we are humble people. I have never thought about myself as an artist. I am a worker, and I take my struggles onto the street with the streets with the Ramona Parra Brigade.” Chin Chin
Street murals supported the workers and students struggle by utilising their creativity to visually inform the world of their struggle. Images such as the pigeon, or a raised fist were used. Through the opinions and views of the artists we understand how street muralism acts as a powerful tool and how the repressed lower classes used graffiti murals as a weapon of resistance during the cold war and now how the community has flourished since the fall of Pinochet’s dictatorship in 1990.
“…the bridge developed political propaganda to get Allende to presidency” Chin Chin
The artists speak about how their art is a form of expression and how paint becomes their medium to fuel their emotions. Before the internet street artists used their street art as a way of communicating with the rest of the world, tourists would take pictures and go home and share these images… spreading Santiago’s culture and message.
The book certainly shares the voices of the Chilean street artists, their opinions and views clash, and contradict one another, some agree… but one thing they all have in common is a passion for painting on the streets and decorating Santiago certainly with a wealth of culture in the lower class regions… every brick painted tells a story of the Chilean people.
Within the neighbourhoods there can be extreme wealth juxtaposed with extreme poverty. We learn paint is often used as a medium because spray cans are too expensive. Artists are regularly asked to help beautify homes. Gentrification is shifting the community lifestyle and many of local residents are being forced to relocate. Artists agree that new construction is killing the neighbourhood little by little, but its the local residents who make the barrio… this is why a lot of artists paint faces on buildings… again murals telling the story of the local community.
The artists are also feeling the acceptance of street art with the wider audience and have seen an increase in paid work… the murals considered as pieces of art, rather than vandalism. Then again on the next page some still see it as vandalism! There is no wrong or right and every artist shares different views which compliments the diverse treasure trove of street art Santiago has to offer.
“I was present for a festival called Hecho en Casa which was organized with the help of the local municipality. Even though street art in not encouraged, it is also not discouraged by the authorities as they all well aware of how street art can impact poorer areas positively” Lord K2
With street art occupying more and more cities it’s no wonder through talent, and popularity, comes international fame for these artists. Some travel the world to paint in festivals, attend events and paint commissions . Travelling offers an artist many experiences and they share these private moments in the book. We understand their learning path, special experiences and inspiration through travelling. My favourite quote throughout the book must be from well-travelled tattoo artist Puxo.
“Those of us who paint on the streets, always fall on our feet, like cats, wherever we go” Puxo
Lord K2 has been able to capture the spirit of Santiago and the community that keeps it alive through his 80 interviews and 200 pictures. GraffitiStreet asked Lord K2 his favourite mural, the one that stood out for him.
“A 30 Meter long mural by Piguan on the banks of the Mapocho River in Bellavista. He completed this mural in a few days with the help of Estanpintando and Hipso. Not only is it my favorite piece aesthetically, It also had the logo of my online museum, the Museum of Urban Art” Lord k2
There is so much to this book and it really is something quite special… Lord K2 takes us on an epic journey through 14 neighbourhoods through the voice of the chilean artists… as I read I become connected every step of the way…
Check out the trailer below…
Lord K2 has kindly offered GraffitiStreet readers the chance to win one of three books. For your chance to win a ‘Street art, Santiago’ book it’s very easy … all you have to do is share this blog and comment below.
Photos and video courtesy of Lord K2 and Schiffer Publishing.
Street art Santiago, Chile by Lord K2
Size: 9″ x 9″
229 Black &White plus Colour Photos
Binding: Hard Cover