Mexico : The World Best City for Street Art ?26 July 2019
As you could understand with my first article on Mexican’s Street Art; this is not in Mexico a phenomenon born in the subway; it does not come from the world of graffiti or hip hop culture like New York or Paris.
Street Art in Mexico is rooted in the tradition of muralism born in the 20’s. It is borrowed from popular culture and fully integrated on Mexican daily reality whatever the neighborhood or the city.
Street Art : legacy of muralism
Urban artists such as SANER, CIX, or SPAIK are internationally renowned; and they are all part of the neo-muralist school of urban artists. They find their inspiration from the colors and patterns of old textiles, indigenous crafts, various legends and traditions.
While reading the Mexican press, I realized that many journalists did not use the word “Street Art” to describe their works, but Contemporary Muralism. These same journalists make the distinction between Graffiti and modern Muralism. Their evocation of Street Art qualifies more international artists who come to pose their works with their own style and personal inspirations.
Where to find Street Art safely in Mexico City?
As I did not have much time to spend in Mexico City, I started doing a Street Art Tour with Street Art Chilango and I had the opportunity to discover a lot of very committed Mexican artists, as you can read on the blog. The neighborhoods of Roma Norte and Condesa are pleasant places where you can really walk in peace. After this tour, I’ve continued to walk around in those streets searching diamonds! And I found some very beautiful ones!
It is with pleasure that I found again many of Groenewold‘s collages and Smitheone‘s frescoes. But my best discovery is the artist Jorge Tellaeche, one of the most popular artists in Mexico today. His work of biotic lines combined with flamboyant pastel colors gives to see dreamlike landscapes around darker’s portrait. Social responsibility is an important part of his highly sensitive work. He donates a large part of his artworks to charities and as any recognized artist, earns money by collaborating with international brands like Adidas, Durex, Comex, Hotel W, …
Women in the spotlight in the modern muralism world of Mexico City
As my ballad progressed, I was struck to see many works done by women, or, in tribute to women! Even if the place of women on the stage of International Street Art is gaining ground; it is still very light! In Mexico things are very different; I do not know if the legacy of Frida Kahlo played a major role in this freedom of speech by the artistic gesture. But it is clear that women enjoy a good representation in the streets of Mexico. One can find strong messages like this “Mujer bonita es la la lucha” – Pretty woman is the one who fights – on this fresco done by the women artists Cristina Maya Street Artist of Mexico, Alina Kiliwa and Cuatrosiete specialists in calligraphy.
Or a mural done in honor of Doña Rosa Real de Nieto, a famous Mexican ceramist known for her work as an artist and her technique used to make black clay shine. This fresco was done in four hands by Maldita Carmen, a street illustrator and Vlocke Negro, a Street Artist also Mexican.
More surprising, I noticed on some mural frescoes a signature “Juntas Imparables” – Unstoppable Together-. After some research, I’ve find out the brand Nike launched in 2018 the Nike Battle Force of Mexico City integrating in addition to the sport: art, rap and break dance! The winners saw their project sponsored by Nike Women! So those frescoes sponsored by Nike Women! But on which the brand does not appear directly, which is rather elegant.
So I had the pleasure of discovering the beautiful and colorful project of Hilda Palafox aka Poni, who since 2006 has been depositing her floating women on the walls of Mexico City. In this realization, the contrast between the colors and the poetic sweetness of the movements is quite amazing.
More athletic is the fresco by Paola Delfin, self-taught artist, now recognized worldwide. This artist has practiced artistic gymnastics, and this work in black and white is certainly a reminiscence of her years spent in the gym.
The sponsored Street Art arrives in Mexico! Even in chic neighborhoods!
What was my astonishment when in the very rich neighborhood of Polanco, while heading towards the Museum of Civilizations, I came face to face with street art works sponsored by the Converse brand! I had noticed these little converses of all colors on the walls of the city, and I found that the brand was abusing a little with its wild publicity.
In fact, I was wrong! These frescoes are the fruit of a competition organized by HidroARTE; a contest in which young artists from Mexico and abroad have to highlight the environmental consciousness through their representations. The places selected for these frescoes are public spaces allocated by the city of Mexico. Some spaces are located in popular neighborhoods and others, like here in Polanco, on technical premises of the city. This contest, sponsored by the City of Mexico, Comex and Converse, has had 6 editions and has produced more than 600 murals.
You will see mother nature reinterpreted in various forms:
Off the beaten track: Discovering Street Art can be dangerous in Mexico!
Well here we are, at the limit of my discoveries! From the window of my taxi, I discover giant murals, very colorful, in the purest Mexican style. But here is the taxi will not let me down! Just because we are in a sensitive neighborhood … And even if I am living in a sensitive area too nearby the Porte de la Chapelle in Paris; I must confess myself defeated, because the “sensitive” in Mexican langage is another issue!
I am still happy to discover the frescoes of two collectives of artists, who work in these neighborhoods. The first fresco was made by Liberalia Colectivo Itinerante; this collective carries out artists and cultural projects as media of communication in zones with strong marginalization in Mexico. We find in their work the symbols of masks, tiger and especially very bright colors.
The artist Frase Honghikuri, meanwhile, brings back to the city the iconography of the Mexican temples and pyramids in the form of giant mandalas very impressive when we dwell on the details.
The vocation of the collective Chiquitraca is to use urban art to honor exemplary lives of the Mexican community. They value the experience of grandparents in the Zapotec culture; a way to show the example to the new generation. I was lucky enough to see many of their frescoes and their work seemed like a real safeguard of identity, tradition and values.
So Mexico undeniable Best World City for Street Art?
Sincerely, the city is sprawling and Street Art, like graffiti, is everywhere! I only gave you a tiny glimpse of what you can find. And you are certainly wondering about the big names of Street Art! Of course they are present; but not necessarily in neighborhoods very easy to access. Mexico City is certainly the city where urban art is most present and most rooted in tradition. But you can not have fun wandering in search of Street Art; you can, like me, take a safe ride in Roma Norte and Condesa; but then I strongly advise you to get closer to an agency that has a seasoned guide and especially who knows the neighborhoods as his pocket.
The best agency available, and above all who has a very knowledgeable guide to these areas rich in urban art in Mexico City is Mexique Découverte! But they are French, and not everybody speaking French or Spanish as the guide do! Another Agency making really great tour is Stylewalk Mexico, they have a high knowledge of the Center of the City and will make you discover very small & incredible streets.
So no nonsense, Mexico, even if it has evolved a lot in recent years, remains an unexpected and potentially dangerous city!
I can only conclude this last article on Mexico City with this work by D * Face, a world-renowned English artist, in which we find his ultra-pop art side, but also a Mexican inspiration with this face painted as for “El dia de muertes “.
As you can see, the greatest international artists are also in Mexico City; you can see works by Herakut, Sipros, … or the beautiful wall of the Italian artist Ericailcane I chose to illustrate the cover of this article. And of course as always, you can find all my Mexican discoveries on Instagram!
If this discovery on Mexico City has aroused your curiosity, I highly recommend my first article about Mexican artists in Mexico City and even more my stroll on the paradise island of Holbox where Street Art and King!
For my part it is time to leave Mexico City with regret and go back to Paris hunting new very friendly places!
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See you soon for new adventures!