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Bogotá is full of graffiti street art that reflects Colombian politics and society

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Bogotá has a thriving graffiti street art scene, especially in a neighborhood called La Candelaria. It’s booming, so much so that graffiti street tours are a popular thing now. We went on one, to see what’s fueling the vibrant art in the streets of Bogotá.

Monica Rivera is the manager of Graffiti Street Tours in Bogotá. She says that political unrest, corruption, repression and decades of war have left their mark on Colombian society. That tends be what they paint here, acting out their feelings with a brushstroke or a can of spray paint. The pressure from that angst and turmoil created a great art scene.

One of the other most popular themes that Colombian artists paint, according to Rivera, is ethnicity and embracing your heritage. It’s a popular theme in Colombian society, which is evident in many of the murals. The most stunning of all, in our opinion, is a painting of an indigenous man by Colombian artist Guache. It fills the wall with brilliant colors and incredible lifelike detail.

Note that I’m using the terms “graffiti” “street art” and “murals” interchangeably, because it is a combination of everything. Some are typical graffiti, while some are more sophisticated works of art. And then a few are full-blown murals, and to call them anything other than that would be to trivialize their standing as a true artistic piece.

But not all these artists are Colombian. Bogotá has become such a vibrant melting pot that now artists fly in from around the world, just to adorn these walls with art. And art that, I might add, is entirely temporary.

“We are changing. Our society is changing all the time. That happens with street art as well,” says Rivera.

“Something else is going to replace it, saying more contemporary things.”

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Check out more stories from our trip to Colombia. These Palenqueras are helping to save a culture from dying through ancient recipes. Pablo Escobar's former mansion is now a thriving amusement park, and his hippos are breeding out of control.

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