When you think of Portugal; visions of wine, amazing food and charming sea-side villages may come to mind. And you wouldn't be wrong, as it has that in spades, but as I recently had the opportunity to discover, Portugal, and specifically its capital city, Lisbon, is also a hotbed for an enormous street art scene, with world-renowned artists laying claim to its walls in the form of huge murals, detailed wheatpastes and throwies galore.
When we think of murals in the United States, it is usually of the brush or aerosol variety. In Portugal, however, there are at least two native artists whose methods and materials are as unique as they are awe-inspiring. Vhils, rather than adding paint to the walls, uses a chisel to remove wall fragments to create his imagery. And Bordalo makes use of discarded materials to form massive trash sculptures on the walls. To really appreciate their skills, you need to check out their work in person. It's mind-blowing. (Time to plan a trip?)
But if you are looking for sprayed walls, you won't be disappointed either. In fact, the Galeria de Arte Urbana recently hosted the Festival Muro LX in the Marvila neighborhood, adding new murals to an otherwise underserved and often outcast community, with works by the likes of Eduardo Kobra from Brazil, Steep from Ecuador and Gleo from Colombia, among others.
Walking around anywhere in the city will lead to some amazing discoveries (as well as some strong legs given the number of hills you will climb). But if you want to make the most of your time, I would recommend checking out one of the Portugal street art maps that are available online. I used the "Urban Art Portugal" app, which was a bit klunky and sometimes out of date, but nonetheless provided addresses to go along with photos of the walls I was interested in checking out. Together with recommendations from other street art fans (thanks Carole, Ann, and Marina), I had a good list going and was not disappointed.
On a quick visit, to get the most bang for your buck (as well as some good eats), make a stop at the LX Factory, an industrial complex in the Alcântara neighborhood in the southern part of the city. Great restaurants and shops in the midst of some awesome art; Lunch at "A Praça" was one of our favorites. (Start with the mushrooms sautéed in butter and whiskey! They are to die for.)
For me, a successful urban art excursion is never truly complete until I see a familiar face on the streets. Or in this case, many eyes staring ME right in the face! Discovering these beautiful copper peepers, adorning a door on Rua do Passadiço, by my friend and New York City-based Spanish artist, Adine, brought my street art exploration full circle.
So, if you are heading to Lisbon to check out the art on the streets, do a little forward planning to make the most of your time there. And don't be afraid to hop in a taxi or an Uber every now and then, as it most certainly won't break the bank, and it just might save your legs and give you a minor reprieve from the blazing summer sun.
If you want to learn more about Portugal's burgeoning street art scene, check back for your daily dose of Sold Magazine. I will be showcasing work from the beach town of Lagos to the south, the northern city of Porto, as well as the island of Saõ Miguel, in The Azores. Until then, enjoy the trip (whether virtually or in person), and happy exploring!
If you are planning a trip soon and want some tips, hit me up. I'd be happy to help.