Porto’s Graffiti

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If you were to walk down a street and come across works like the ones above, you would certainly stop to admire them. The Family and I walked through the centre of Porto and its Baixa, looking at many things, including these beautiful, and possibly ephemeral, pieces of art.

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The redevelopment of Porto seems to have stalled in recent years because of the global economic downturn. Not only has the economy shrunk, but unemployment has been very high. A possible result is that right in the centre of town there are "mixed use" blocks of flats like in the picture above. There are flats where people stay, and water the flowering plants on their balcony, cheek by jowl with flats lying open and unused and painted over by quick-response street artists.

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This kind of graffiti also has individual styles: sometimes in the choice of colours, sometimes in the decorations added on to the letters. We walked slowly through Porto for a few days, admiring these differences. The decorative touches in the example above made us happy that we did not run into this work gang, although we liked the colours.

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But the most exciting pieces go beyond lettering and gang signs. This fish is incredible. It stands on Rua de Sao Bento da Vitoria, when it emerges behind the Clerigos tower. We stopped to admire it, and found that we were not the only one. It was a lovely complex piece, beautifully executed.

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On Rua de Sa da Bandeira, we saw this beautiful minimalistic aesthetics on the wall of an abandoned building. I liked it as it is, although this could be an unfinished piece.

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The reason we thought this could be unfinished is that we saw a similar piece as we climbed the steep lanes from the Sao Bento station towards Batalha. On the steeply sloping street two artists had placed their works next to each other. The work on the left is a version of the minimalistic piece that we saw near Bolhao. That on the right is signed by an artist (or consortium?) called Hazul, whose work we began to recognize. A beautiful example of Hazul’s work is in the featured image.

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The three pieces above are all by a person (or group) who signs as Costah. The stylistic similarity was such that we began to recognize his work on the road, and would be delighted to identify his signature on a work. The three pieces above are collected from various parts of central Porto.

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Even more prolific than Costah is Hazul. Three of the pieces that I like best are collected together above. Hazul seems to range all across the main parts of Porto: the Baixa as well as the Alto. There were beautifully realized pieces, clearly complete, as well as pieces which seemed more sketchy. Could they be works in progress? I wish I could go back in six months to check.

These signed works are so beautiful that I wish the city takes steps to protect them. There are other artists who are beginning to create an individual style. Maybe there is genuinely a movement beginning in Porto.

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Author: I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.

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