Many towns and cities in Chile are alive with street art. In Santiago, the neighbourhoods of Yungay, Brasil and Bella Vista are hotspots, but you’re just as likely to find a masterpiece in other areas, when you least expect it. The port city of Valparaiso is like a big open-air gallery.
Street art brightens up otherwise grungy and run-down neighbourhoods, provides a form of artistic expression, often sends a political or lifestyle message, and somehow manages to keep other, thoughtless and ugly graffiti at bay.
One of my favourites is a well-thought out piece in downtown Santiago.
At first, it looks like a colourful stand-alone piece taking up a whole building wall in front of an empty city block. It’s what? A boy with a kite string?
When you take a step back and look at the bigger city view, you might notice this…
Why, the colour scheme is the same as the wall art and, it seems to be the boy’s kite so that the whole picture looks like this:
Is he flying the kite on an invisible string? Or is he looking forlorn at having lost it to the wind and having it snag on a nearby building?
As a side note, Chileans fly a lot of kites in September, the month of their patriotic holidays and when there is actually some wind in Santiago. A popular tactic for past generations was to use an “hilo curado” or “cured string”, which was a string lined with cut glass, in order to cut your “competitor’s” string. Maybe the subject of the painting has been the victim of such an underhanded practice!
This large-scale street art happens to be in front of a “colectivo” rank, and the locals were so pleased when I took an interest in it and started taking photos. They burst over each other to tell me the story that, apparently when the art was first finished, there was an actual cable running from the boy’s hand to the kite on the building, but it had to be removed because, although there was permission for both the painting and the kite, there had been no permission for the cable. Either way, it’s a beautiful piece.