You’ve got to admit – graffities are everywhere. It’s simply impossible to imagine yourself in a world where there’s no scratch on the public toilets, no tags on old railway carriages, or on the road signs. But it’s always puzzled me how talented street artists not only fail to get the proper consideration for their works, but are often put in the situation to pay fines.
It’s partly why I’ve always been impressed by well designed street art. For people like me, Ecuador is simply heaven. Here, what keeps the graffers together is their genuine interest for alternative projects, against the legal penalties that often come along with their choice. But it’s not sloppy tags or hasty political slogans mocking the system that you’ll find here. No. In Ecuador, Cuenca is the perfect home for massive visual urban art projects.
The general feel of the city is walking through an open museum, and once in a hundred meters or less you’ll find yourself astonished once more. Diversity is hardly one of the most important features of the painted walls – although it’s clearly not missing from the projects.
There’s no doubt that Banksy, the most (in)famous artist of his kind, played his part very well in turning the world upside down while becoming a celebrity. While awareness is hardly the problem of this phenomenon, the artists usually have to struggle in the stereotypical way that we most often imagine them. They sneak during the night, with their face covered with dark-colored hats to make the police’s job harder.
In Cuenca, the situation has changed since 2013. The local administration approved their urban art projects and even agreed to come up with the paint. An approximate number of 60 artists made their dreams come true since that day, and the city is one of the most engaging visual explorations that you could ever imagine. Instead of depicting a world of legal vandalism, Cuenca’s different approach of urban art has entirely transformed the city for the better. The sludgy tags have turned into impressive works of art, as far as the quality of these projects is concerned.
But the beauty of the city doesn’t only lie in urban art. Whoever climbs the 439 steps, getting to Viewpoint Turi, witnesses the most absorbing bird’s-eye view of Cuenca. The four rivers crossing it, the colorful roofs and the cult of preserving green spaces make every pant worth it. This way, the steps become nothing but a stairway to a proper heaven. A real one. If you’re lucky enough to get there on a sunny day, no other explanation will be necessary.