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Since the construction of Transmilenio in 2000, Bogotá had a big change and especially a milestone in the local graffiti scene. Many houses were torn down to give way to the red buses and their stations, and in the way left plenty of huge walls painted with only flat dull colors. As there was a strong previous graffiti movement, deeply rooted in hip-hop culture, those empty spaces quickly filled up with throw-ups, tags and in some cases with more elaborate pieces. Afterwards, a local politic gave way to the legalization of those spaces for making murals, street art, and graffiti, and things changed impressively for better. Leaving behind illegal art, more time, no law enforcement conflicts, more resources, and daylight to work on more elaborate pieces, pushed up the level and mastery of local artists and graffiti crews. Very quickly, impressive artworks were exhibited on the main streets of Bogota, and they became enjoyable and an attraction for locals and visitors.
This phenomenon changed not only the appearance of the city but the way Bogotans perceived it. Walls weren't empty, dirty or gloomy anymore, color and creativity gave life to the capital and cheered up the day to day of its inhabitants. Also, graffiti became a respected activity and was recognized as artwork and not as vandalism by the general public. In this way, local´s perception of graffiti, and graffiti festivals such as Tercer Mundo or Hip Hop al Parque helped to spread murals and color throughout the city, making graffiti as something legitimate, attractive, and desired for the city. At that point, both the government and private companies opened projects for street artists to intervene larger and taller walls giving an extra push for emerging and consolidated artists in the city.
In Bogotá, graffiti can be classified into techniques and content. For example, there is a strong stencil movement with artists like Toxicómano, Lesivo, and DJLU who mainly focus on sociopolitical themes, or more illustration-artistic-like murals such as the colorful works of Rodez, Stinkfish, Ledania, and Guache. And let's not forget traditional graffiti and the remarkable works of this style made by Caz2, Yurika, Crudo, and Ospen, who work mainly with letters and characters, and constantly give an innovative, colorful twist to the art of lettering.
Now graffiti, street art, and muralism are deeply bonded to Bogotá and are part of the city´s essence. The government still gives way to this art, and both citizens and tourists are more interested and eager to learn about the artwork´s message and the artists behind it. Most recent works include huge productions which transform whole blocks or gigantic messages that comment on sociopolitical reality. It´s a fact that during the last two decades, Bogotá has acquired a new pleasing, interesting, and colorful face.
Street art is fundamentally ephemeral; walls get torn down, art gets damaged or simply there is new art to replace it. In any case, Bogotá´s street art is getting better and better, and artists from all the globe are coming by to leave their work on any wall of the Southamerican Street art Capital. Come by, get to know this city, learn about Colombia right from its walls and artistic expressions, and get more insight into local graffiti scene. Bogotá is an open 24/7 street art museum worth paying a visit.