I've been living in Lima for only a few weeks but in that time I've been walking all over the place. Eventually we will have our car and I'll be able to get around a bit more but that will be at the cost of seeing things at a slower pace. When cruising by ensconced in a vehicle I am apt to miss much that passes by my windows. I've found that a great way to get to know a new city is to walk or jog through it. I live out in the suburbs far from the hip sections of Lima and admittedly have seen only a tiny part of even the suburbs. Lima is a vast city made up of 30 districts it is a big place chock full of grinding traffic, which once my car is here I can happily partake in, during winter a grey hazy fog blankets the city. On the few days that it has been sunny and the fog lifts it reveals the barren lunar sierras that are slowly pushing the city into the sea. These seemingly lifeless mountains are covered with a cacophony of boulders silently mimicking the traffic below.
In this grey-scape the first art I have seen is that which has been sprayed on walls. That and a sweet R2 D2 trash can! These range from the simple no nonsense penis to homages to Rene Magritte. I wont claim to know a great deal about street art as my artistic world has been wielded to paper and press for a long while now. The small amount of street art I see while walking my kids to school got me interested and I have been doing a bit of research online. I've stumbled upon artists like Decertor and Elliot Tupac two artists from Peru who currently have a show "Prueba y Error" along with a project called AFUERA 2013. The AFUERA project interested me right away. It gathers a group of artists and has them work in a specific area of Peru to promote street art in areas where one would normally not see it. It also has an artist/activist component. The next AFURA will take place in the costal town Pisco. Pisco will become a canvas to illustrate the impact of a recent earthquake and the rebuilding process in contrast to a nearby town which is experiencing a building boom. You should check out the groups Indiegogo page for a short video about the project.
Last Sunday we piled the kids into a taxi and headed over to the art show 'Prueba y error' in MIraflores at the Centro Cultural Ricardo Palma. Getting from La Molina to Miraflores can at times be a real pain but Sunday morning traffic was light and we were soon down at the show. The first thing that stood out was not even in the show. High up on the opposite building was a mural I recognized as the work of Decerto. His images are painterly, cartoonish, along with being political. It sort of reminded of the murals of Diego Rivera. Along with this show there was another interesting show downstairs titled 'Todo O Nada' featuring work by Samuel Gutierrez Davilla who clearly has one foot in graphic design and another in pop art.
In 'Prueba y error' two artists use different tactics to express a single idea. I do not have a huge amount of context from which to interpret and judge this work, but I will anyhow. From what I have seen of Decertors work he tends to use the human figure in surealistic settings employing arrows and signs to guide the viewer while Elliot Tupac relies on bold neon text to convey information. Tupac's lettering style is reminiscent of the hand painted signs one sees on shops all through Lima and latin America you can see some examples here. He makes commentary on society through the use of a common form of advertising I guess not not much different from Andy Warhol's soup cans. In working together it is no surprise that each brings to the table their respective skills. The pieces are simple in the sense that they are not cluttered. The show focuses on the cycle of life but also speak to a cycle back to tradition. Tupac's lettering stands out on Decertors's sureal imagery with statements like; After All - Return/Begin, One Day Less, and Birth/Death. While this clearly speaks to the cycle of life I wonder if they are also commenting on a return to tradition. For example one piece shows the progression from baby faced youth to hollow skulled death juxtaposed to the next which depicts a man rising from the dead, a resurrection. As there is no obvious religious iconography I wonder if this is instead referring to the resurrection of tradition, the common man, and the dawning of a new day. These slogans are broadcasted in fonts reminiscent of the colorful advertisements which direct us through our daily life. Peppered among the images are small symbols; keys, leafless trees, hourglasses, and bricks hinting at a greater lexicon for the viewer to decipher. All in all I found the show interesting but left me wishing for more. I was expecting a visual over load but found that the small nature of the work left it constrained. Whereas across the street Decertor's 50' long figure stared down dominantly. The show did increase in the AFUERA 2013 project that I mentioned above and hope to write more on that soon.
We also checked out 'Todo O Nada' by Samuel Gutierrez Davilla who signs his work 'Gutierrez'. Where the first show was constrained 'Todo O Nada' lives up to its name, there is a shit load of work in the show! Chairs dangle from the ceiling, digital prints fill the walls, and small ceramic pieces mimic their 2D counter parts. If 'Prueba y error' dealt with cycles 'Todo O Nada' speaks to clashes. Maneki-Neko cats, bobble head chihuahua's, Parrots, and cartoon characters are tattooed with text and traditional Peruvian designs. Here text again plays a critical role in conveying information. From the stand point of fun this show keeps you smiling, the images are big and bold. Gutierraz has one bouncing between social commentary to Luchadors. Which I found to be the most interesting of the bunch. 'Dead Luchadors' is written in looped text above a series of Luchador portraits. My only real bone with this show was that it was almost too much, in contrast to the overly restrained show upstairs.
Both shows are certainly worth a look at and are up until July 31st. After checking out the shows we walked down and had a look at the ocean and then found a small cafe named Zimmermans, I think. Great place for breakfast with the kids. The owner told us he would soon be serving bloody mary's along with the chicharones breakfast!