I first blogged about graffiti and street art when we were in Athens and you couldn’t help but notice the sheer volumes of paint adorning the walls of the city. It ranged from commissioned art to guerilla avant-garde, and from political graffiti to the lowest form of vandalism – the tag.
As soon as we started our walk about Amsterdam we started to see street art that ran this entire gamut.
Our initial walk around Lisbon was no different. The graffiti and street art was everywhere. In particular, when we walked the crooked alleyways and cobbles up to São Jorge Castle the many ruins nearby had been overtaken by artists and tag-thugs alike.
Similarly, the many stairways throughout the neighborhoods of Alfama, Baxia, Bairro Alto, and Chiado were adorned with free expression.
The Glória Funicular of Lisbon connects the Pombaline downtown area with the Bairro Alto and (perhaps in response to the graffiti lining the route and the street car itself) the city appears to have left large boards for artists to paint with some notable works.
In the Algarve and specifically on our walks in Tavira, the graffiti was more wimsical and playful in nature, reflecting the more relaxed and easy going pace of life in the south of Portugal.
Even in Evora (where we went to visit the Chapel of Bones) is not immune to graffiti on the walls and streets of the walled inner city. And as expected we saw a lot of graffiti and street art in the crumbling alleys of Coimbra, Portugal’s main university town.
But by far the most impressive street art was on the streets Porto. Around every cobbled corner waited another masterpiece to invoke emotions and inspire reflection.
Along the Rua das Flores which we discovered on our first day of walking Porto, there are utility boxes outside many of the businesses that line the street. The city, or perhaps a the local merchants, have commissed artists to decorate them all along the avenue in hopes that will cut down on them decorating the walls of their business.
The art in Porto was more humorous and light in nature than elsewhere in Portugal. It reflects well the personalities of those we met in Porto and the atmosphere of art, international toursim we felt there (not to metion perhaps the port we drank there).
But there was one artist that really struck us – the work of Hazul Luzah. We noticed his stylistic works across the city, often with one after another of a themed piece around each corner, coaxing you along. I found his work striking with strong repeating semi-religious organic forms, often of a faceless mother in shroud inviting you to perhaps see your own reflection in that blank space.