Barranco is located about 7 miles from the center of Lima, the capital and largest city of Peru with a population of almost 8.5 million people. Because of its proximity to the city center and beautiful cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it was a popular beach getaway during the 19th century. It is now known as the bohemian culture and art hub where leading local artists live and work.
The most visible manifestation of these artists’ influence is street art, which can be admired simply by wandering through this vibrant district. It covers the walls, bridges, stairs, and walkways throughout Barranco.
Many murals display political messages. This example asks, “Somos Libres?” (Are we free?) and is painted in the red and white of the Peruvian flag. It questions the political and social freedom of Peruvians, a highly debated topic after the recent months-long schoolteacher protest for higher wages and better benefits that was fiercely countered by the national government.
The political side of street art is not unwarranted. It was opposed and even attacked by the current Mayor of Lima, Luis Castañeda Lossio, who in 2015 covered over 60 murals in yellow paint because he believed they went against the UNESCO World Heritage protected Lima Historical Center. However, a few months later the local government of Barranco announced a contest called “Las Paredes Hablan” (the walls speak) and designated fifteen walls in different areas of the district to be painted by the winners. The goal of the contest is to create more spaces for creativity and cultural and artistic expression through painting.
Development and expansion of street art in Barranco is important because it makes art more accessible, both to the artists and to the public. No longer is art contained within museums and private collections; more and more artists are able to showcase their work to a wider audience than ever before. The next “Las Paredes Hablan” will be held this year, and I can’t wait to see what new ideas it unveils.
The world awaits…discover it.