Mexico City — or DF as it is colloquially known by Mexicans — is no doubt a cultural mecca. It has one of the world’s highest number of museums per capita, a growing number of annual concerts and a thriving theater scene. Now a vigorous street art movement is emerging, and Mexican website streetartchilango.com is attempting to create a virtual collection of the city’s street art masterpieces.
Edgar Saner is one of Mexico's most prolific street artists.
What started out as a Facebook fan page is now an online platform powered by Google Maps, allowing users to upload photos and geolocate street art in real time by simply tagging Instagram posts with the hashtag #streetartchilango.
Pinpointing each work in D.F.
The venture is being led by social media connoisseur Alex Revilla and graphic designer turned street artist Jenaro de Rosenzweig, two young Mexicans promoting their metropolis as one of the most fertile grounds for street art.
Jenaro de Rosenzweig's signature dalmatian.
“Mexican urban art has an inheritance that comes from Mexican muralism and renowned muralist masters such as Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros,” Alex Revilla told Fusion. “This is why Mexicans are much more open to the idea and they don’t really see it as invasive graffiti as long as the work is good and has an argument.”
Rosenzweig said Mexico’s rich muralism history makes it unique compared to urban street art movements in Europe and the United States where paste up and stencil techniques are predominant. “In Mexico you also have plenty of space and huge walls that you can ultimately turn into canvasses,” he added.
A work from famous portuguese artist Vhils. Revilla said Vhils created the face during a Mexican street art festival back in 2012 using a peculiar technique: detonating perfectly placed and controlled explosives on the building wall.
Nick Mestizo is well respected within Mexican street art circles.
Revilla agrees. “Mexico City has many hidden spaces with big and perfect walls. It’s not difficult to paint, police are even open to the idea as long as you get approval from property owners.” He said artists usually show their drawings or sketches to the area’s residents before they start to paint.
An iconic Day of the Dead Mexican Catrina.
Revilla said Mexico’s political and social problems are also being increasingly reflected in street murals. “By nature artists have a social responsibility, and events such as the disappearance of 43 students have influenced many of the recent works that have been spotted throughout the city.”
"I will fight today. Because I don't want to see you die tomorrow."
A mural depicting former Mexican President Carlos Salinas.
A fake street sign reads "Disappeared" in reference to the 43 missing Ayotzinapa students.
Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata
Styles of street art can vary by neighborhood, Rosenzweig explained. In the chic neighborhoods of La Roma and Condesa, the art has a heavy dose of international influence because of the number of foreigners living in both areas. In the city center, or Centro Historico, there are murals that have been commissioned by companies, government trusts and promoters. The birthplace of Mexican street art is Xochimilco, an area famous for its lake canals that can be explored on colorful rafts known as Trajineras, Rosenzweig said.
Revilla pointed out that while traditional galleries in Mexico are focusing on a small number of prominent street artists, their digital platform seeks to highlight a broader range of work, particularly from lesser-known talent. “We are not curators or elitists, we merely document the art,” he said.
An image shared on Facebook by street art chilango where Mexican cops seem to be invoking The Beatles.
A graffiti homage to Mexico's Virgin of Guadalupe.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman telling death he's on his way by Smithe
A mariachi kid á la Bansky.
A work by Libre HEM, an architect turned street artist and member of HEM Crew — a group of border street artists that plaster their work in both the U.S. and Mexico. The work above is actually in San Diego.
“What the map does is create an automatic cultural archive that is constantly being updated by chilangos [slang for Mexico City residents],” Rosenzweig explained. “Social networks are helping to immortalize Mexican street art and allowing it to be viewed from anywhere in the world.”