Colombia’s capital, Bogota is a little bit of a let down unfortunately. Homelessness and drug addiction is rife and safety – especially at night, is an issue. We stayed in La Candelaria (the old town), and this is where we spent most of our time as it was quite pretty. However, walking the streets after dark is not advisable. On our first night we left our hostel at about 9.00 pm in search of a convenience store, only to be followed and threatened by a crackhead – luckily the local military guards were on patrol and so we made a lucky escape.
A lovely city break, Bogotá is not – but it does have one draw card making this otherwise forgettable city well worth stopping off at!
Graffiti in Bogotá – it’s up there with the best!
Who would have known that Colombia is in fact harbouring one of the most vibrant art scenes in the world. It’s up there with the best – London, New York, Paris, LA…
I wasn’t expecting it and I’m so glad I stayed a few days in Bogotá to get to know it.
A must do whilst in Bogotá is the Graffiti Walking Tour.
This tour offers a fantastic insight into how Graffiti in Colombia has evolved into a form of social commentary and cultural expression, so not only do you see some of the best street art in the world, you also learn about the politics and socio-economic history of the country.
What’s better still is that the tour is run by one of the graffiti artists, Christian.
Christian is an extraordinary tour guide whose emphasis is on showcasing the work of fellow artists and collectives and explaining their backgrounds in the context of what motivates them to paint.
The street art in Bogotá rivals some of the best street art in the world and some of the artists (for example, Stinkfish), whose work you see throughout the city have a reputation world-wide, selling their artwork for millions.
Yes, the art scene in Bogotá is the best I have seen in the world.
A brief history of graffiti and street art in Bogotá – provided by Bogata Graffiti Tours
The first graffiti in Bogotá were petroglyphs written on the walls of caves in the Bogotá savannah’s made by the indigenous Chicha people. From there, Graffiti evolved into a form of social commentary and cultural expression, especially during ‘La Violencia’ and the height of the civil war. With a growing middle class and a drastically improved political system, modern taggers have removed some preach from the paint and continue to focus on creating artwork that showcases their skills rather than on a cause. The designs have become more and more complex using stencils, spray paint, stickers and wheat-pasted posters.
Since graffiti isn’t technically a crime in Colombia, grafiteros have free reign to be as expressive as they please.
Here is an introduction to some of the most well known artists in the city:
Bastardilla (Bogota, Colombia)
Perhaps my favourite artist in Bogota.
In the male-dominated world of Colombian street art, a remarkable female artist draws from poverty, feminism, pain, the effects of violence and nature.
Bastardilla’s artwork is powerful and evocative. Her story as a woman growing up in a society where women were abused and treated as second class citizens is conveyed through her haunting, sad and beautiful artwork.
My favourite bit is her final touch of glitter, which at night-time catches the reflection of headlights and street lights.
Stinkfish (Bogota, Colombia)
Another amazing artist. Stinkfish has painted all over the world – from Colombia and Mexico all the way to India.
Pez (Barcelona, Spain)
Happy-go-lucky Pez is also HUGE on the world art scene. Pez (fish) likes to keep it light and paints to put a smile on your face. He recently exhibited in London’s Westbank Gallery. He exhibits world-wide.
Guache (Bogota, Colombia)
Formidable artwork. Guache produces beautiful vibrant murals of Colombia’s indigenous people, fauna, flora and terrain. He recently visited Europe where he painted and exhibited in Berlin, Paris and Barcelona.
Toxicomano (Bogota, Colombia)
Toxicomano is an art collective made up of an artist, a publicist, a sociologist and an A/V producer. Formerly a band, their anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist graphics cover the streets of Colombia
Last but not least – our guide:
Christian AKA CRISP (Sydney, Australia)
A Bogota based street artist who enjoys using a variety of mediums but mainly murals and stencils to create political and thought-provoking pieces.
Art – in all it’s forms – is a passion of mine. This was a real highlight of my world trip so far. If you stop at Bogotá and don’t do this tour you’re seriously missing out!
Check out my highlights and travel tips for everywhere I travelled to in the world: Cuba, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, The Galapagos Islands, Argentina, LA, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia and Japan.