When I visited Lisbon, it was really only for a few days. The weather was perfection with the hot summer sun of May beating down on us the entire time and we enjoyed as many quick tours as we could at the time. These mostly focused on the cultural and heritage aspects of Lisbon and Portugal as a whole, and naturally included a lot of memorials, museums and heritage sites.
While trawling the streets in between cultural tours though, it was definitely the graffiti in Lisbon that grabbed my attention, especially these major street art projects that seemed to consume entire boarded-up buildings. These major projects didn’t have as much press as I expected to find when researching them later, but this little piece by Huffington Post details the projects on these buildings themselves and how they’ve transitioned over the years.
Os Gemeos. Blu
The buildings were painted over time through a project called Underdogs. This is an initiative put together by Portuguese graffiti artists VHILS and has brought together a collective of talented street artists to beautify, and create tourist attractions, out of otherwise derelict buildings. This is an extract from the article:
“Underdogs is an international working platform based in Lisbon, Portugal that aims at creating space within the contemporary art scene for artists connected with the new languages of urban visual culture,” say the organizers, and they have curated a program of some large-scale pieces around the city in an intelligently grand and contextual manner that makes them seem like the installations have been there for decades, not a handful of years. Urban or contemporary, it has serious fans.
This really was the first time that I believe I had actually seen very deliberate pieces of street art that spoke to the culture of a city. Before this, rudimentary tagging and the occasional 3D lettering were all I knew of graffiti firsthand, having seen only intricate and mostly American artists’ work during my university thesis on ‘Graffiti as self-expression’. I wish that I’d actually been able to walk around the buildings more and catch up on the smaller details inside all of these ‘installations’, but at least I have something to look forward to if I ever go back…