Graffiti in Barcelona has a storied past, gaining and waning in popularity over the years. About five years ago, to prevent tagging on their steel security barriers, business owners began commissioning serious graffiti artists to paint their shutters instead. Taggers were known to respect the art and not paint over it.
City authorities, however, regarded graffiti – even professional work – as something that “soils the public space, devalues our heritage and visually degrades the urban fabric.” So, shop owners suddenly found themselves facing fines from officials intent on eliminating this “antisocial behavior”. In early 2011, it officially became illegal for grafitteros to paint on persianas, the rolling metal doors.
I’m not entirely clear where the law stands now. It seems that there are initiatives underway to reverse this decision, so I think that regulations remain in effect; though, we’ve also witnessed an artist at work in broad daylight, which seems unlikely if it’s still completely forbidden. Either way, we’ve enjoyed coming across these varied displays on our nighttime walks when shutters are closed. Styles vary dramatically and, personally, I think it adds to the personality and character of the city. The small streets and alleys of the Gothic Quarter are the best, but you can find wonderful work all over town.
Here’s a selection of the grafit we’ve spotted so far…