Porto Street Art

Vandalism, defacement, criminal, destructive.

Artistic, expression, freedom, Voyeuristic.

Graffiti: Love it or hate it, seek it or ignore it. Perhaps you feel angered by it, perhaps you feel ambivalent about it.

We could have quite a discussion around these issues….

But let’s not.

Whether you’re a proponent or opponent of what is often referred too as ‘Street Art’ I think there’s some points that both sides can agree on….

Graffiti is as old as the hills…. well not quite…. there was a hill, someone built a structure on it; shortly afterwards someone scrawled something on that structure….

….in fact that’s not quite right is it?

Humanity existed as cave dwellers, hunting, gathering. And painting on caves.

So graffiti has been around a while, and I think it’s here to stay.

Except of course the individual works of the graffiti practitioners… these works are rather fleeting don’t you think?

Even Banksy has been painted over and wiped away…

So, graffiti has existed as a genre since before we recorded time, yet individual works of graffiti can have a very short shelf life.

It’s an interesting juxtaposition, no?

Eternal yet temporal, which to my mind at least, makes street art highly metaphoric.

I very much enjoy the documentary and reportage side of photography, making permanent the fleeting. Things can be momentary against a range of timescales of course, from a ray of light or a smile, to the slow change of our cities and landscapes. But things change and a photograph can make a memory tangible.

When the Art Gallery in Porto invited local photographers to submit images of street art, I already had plenty of images to chose from in stock! (Not that it stopped me going out to shoot some new ones you understand!)

Our curated work was projected as part of an installation, and with this post I’d like to share with you some my images.

Via my blog we’ve taken a look the street scenes of Porto; the architectural charm of Porto met the stray cats of Porto and even ventured into the darkened streets of Se.

But now let’s take a look at the seedier side of being an artist, when people’s desire to exhibit their work becomes both physically and metaphorically external.

Curating these shots for this post, I noticed that all of them have been shot with the Fujifilm X-Pro1 and the XF35mm lens. I really do love this combination!

Does art imitate life, or does life imitate art
I’m really happy with this shot! Technically, yeah some issues – I should clone out the hole in the wall… I perhaps could of stopped down a bit (but the real cat is already on the cusp of SNR…) But I was basically done shooting for that day, then I stumbled on this scene and I HAD to have it… The stray wouldn’t hang around for long and set up time was at a premium. For me, for whatever that’s worth… It was just a magic little moment of life and art and how people and animals interact with the world we create and then discard.

Bird in a Cage
This is actually a phone box, they’re red here (like they used to be in the UK) and like in the UK they’re a obvious target for ‘decoration.’ The image I saw here made me think of a bird in cage, that combined with my PERSONAL opinion that many graffiti artists must be compelled to exhibit despite the fact that they must understand that their work is not going to be around for very long, made me think of feeling trapped and wanting to break out.

Sign Artist
I suspect that this ‘art’ is more about display than convey… It certainly doesn’t look like a recent creation, fading and dilapidating as much as the wall it’s written on. The blue/white of the one way sign that’s mirrored in the graffiti is what draw my eye to this.

Street Art
This is actually painted on a wall very near my home! The whole wall is quite vast, and has many layers of street art. This wall is slowly being removed due to building works, so at some point all of it will be gone… I DO NOT condone vandalism at all, and I’m slightly loathe to type ‘but’ – but, some of the talent and hard work that goes into graffiti truly deserves the moniker ‘street art’

Pop Goes the Graffiti Weasel
Again, I think this is more about display than convey… But the pop of the text, the use of colours, especially the use of colour against the texture of the stone and metal work (look how the colour changes!) made this leap out at me. I hope my photograph has done it justice… We’re just left to wonder who ‘Ant’ is… an undiscovered graphic designer or a person well aware of their talents but with no desire to feed the corporate machine?!!

As I opened with; graffiti – it’s a touchy subject, a contentious subject. A dubious activity and very easy to see only the destruction and damage caused.

Yet (as I’ve hopefully shown…) this vandalism is often created by people who surely have a sensitive and artistic temperament, combined with real skill and talent and we can only speculate as too why this ability (that they have) is apparently confined to the streets.

I know some of you might (correctly) state ‘you wouldn’t be so happy if they were painting on YOUR house’ and indeed you’d be right! But equally, if you woke up tomorrow to find a Banksy on the side of your property, the value of it might very well pay off a considerable chunk of your mortgage….

Most things have more than one way to look at them.

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8 thoughts on “Porto Street Art”

  1. I love graffiti, though I’m well aware of the general consensus that it’s an eyesore…it’s the talent and tenacity of the artists that impresses me (particularly, as you point out, in light of the inevitably temporary nature of their work), and their ability to daub their tags in the most inaccessible locations.

    Great article, and congrats on the show – you made some excellent contributions (especially the cat)!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much, sadly the cat one missed the deadline. Porto has many abandoned and decaying buildings which get a lot of graffiti attention, graffiti can be an eyesore, but also it can be produced by highly talented people.. So it’s a tough call… There’s an empty, once grand, now dilapidated, town house near me, the windows have been bricked up, and someone has graffitied it with Christmas decorations and painted over the bricked up windows with imaginary scenes that you might see if the house was occupied, and your were looking through the windows; a tree, presents, stuff like that… I find it very poignant… I haven’t managed to capture it in an image that I’m happy with though…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Adam, fabulous blog thank you combined with great photos. We were in Porto last Sept. loved every second. What are your thoughts on the new Fuji GFX

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    1. Thank you very much Glenn,

      Well I can’t see myself getting a GFX any time soon. But the initial reports and reviews have been very favourable. There’s a great look to MF files, and with the GFX being competitively priced (in context) I’m sure that Fuji will have a winner on their hands…

      It’s crazy when you stop and think about it… In 2011 the top range Fuji was a HS20, a fixed zoom lens bridge camera with a compact sized sensor, and now it’s a MF camera, with a range of lenses and of course the whole X range. Amazing really.

      Thanks again
      Adam

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