Street Art of Santiago Book Review – Profound, Vibrant, Artistically Impressive

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Street Art of Santiago, Chile, from Schiffer Publishing, presents a collection of street art photographed by the internationally known artist, Lord K2 who traveled around the neighborhoods of the capital interviewing street artists and capturing their work.

 

With more than 200 images and eighty interviews, Street Art of Santiago is more than what many define as graffiti, the wall murals are vivid reminders that art, which appears to be a dirty word to many of the street artists covered in the 184 pages, takes on many different forms.


 

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"Rather than concentrating on just a few artists, I experienced the whole of Santiago's art scene. The book passes through neighborhood by neighborhood, as I did. On this trip I learned how Santiago's graffiti transcends neighborhoods, their art connects spreading across Santiago," Lord K2 said.

The bloated lettering, tags, which many perceive as the most common and despised form of street art, gives way to brilliant displays of multi-colored, eye-popping neon murals which are gallery (another dirty word) ready.


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Street Art of Santiago is sectioned into fourteen neighborhoods, within the capital of Chile, all who impose different legal restrictions for the artist, in some neighborhoods there are no laws prohibiting the artist from fashioning his work on any building, turning the streets become a mosaic of urban art, while in other neighborhoods artists still operate under the cloak of darkness which produce quick pictures and annoying tags.

The specialty book, begins with an introduction to the region, setting the scene, the pages are filled will history of a radical nation, using street art to propagate the message of socialism in the 1970s as well as rage against the system when dictator General Augusto Pinochet seized power. Graffiti took the place of mass media, presenting an opposition in pictures.

The preface moves through inspiration, identity and mentions how the lock down in media motivated the Chilean artist to develop their own style and the modern association with graffiti.

Neighborhoods featured are Bellavista, Barrio Brazil, Centro, Estacion Central, Jose Maria Caro, Maipu, Mapocho Rivera, Patronato, Las Condes & Providencia, Quinta Normal, Renca, San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Barrio Yungay.


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The presentation of the art is alphabetical by neighborhoods and the progression of art is relative to the restriction by the police and military. The issues of days, times, seasons, and events are of course the inspiration for many of the artists, personal issues, poverty, men, women, sex and the navigation of life.

In the section on San Miguel, the audience is introduced to the "Open Air Museum." A project founded by Roberto Hernandez Bravo and David Villarroel Fuentes, both residents of the barrio. "The project has become the greatest expression of collective street art in Chile, where techniques of muralism and graffiti share the stage and intertwine in original works developed by the best national and international artists, both new and established, who agreed in advance to have their creations validated by the residents of each wall. This unique cooperative participation creates shared feeling of belonging between the murals and the local resident."

This decision created some of the most vivid, large, outdoor cavass style murals of magnificent, brilliant, vibrant colors, reflecting cultures, peoples, emotions, joys, sorrows, hopes, the street, and above all the arts.


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As they protest the labels of contemporary art, in fact they present in the pages, styles used by iconic painters including Edward Hopper, who sketched out every painting he ever created.

The canvass may be different, and clearly the art is avant-garde, innovative and unconventional and yet the lifeblood, the breath of the artists is fueled by the same passions as artists everywhere and these featured in the pages of Street Art of Santiago say it, "they paint because they must."

 

Lord K2, the author, has a similar story to many venture capitalists, a London based financier, he became part of the retire early movement, and while working by day in finance he attended the London College in Printing. He studied stencil in Buenos Aires and then photography at the International center of Photography in New York. His artistic street life canvas allowed him a freedom a single studio couldn't. His work has been seen in Argentina, Chile, and featured in galleries in New York, London, and Tel Avia.

Street Art of Santiago, Chile opens the mind to a world of art and artists, who resonate with the lifeblood of the greats. They are the disruptors of their time, just as the greats were before them. Their time may not have arrived yet, but the world stage is moving to the time when their art will lead the generations and be showcased at great museums around the world.

Profound, imaginative, a visual artistic tour through Santiago, Chile.

Street Art of Santiago, Chile can be purchased at fine bookstores and online.

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