Exploring the Street Art of San Isidro
Art-lovers alike are lured to Buenos Aires with promises of an erupting Latin American art scene. You can explore history through art at the world-famous MALBA, or for the more unconventional craftsman, the walls of San Telmo are an open canvas for graffiti artists to express themselves through abstract shapes and figures. However, for the art-enthusiast itching to see what lies beyond the urban landscape of Buenos Aires, I encourage you to go to San Isidro.
San Isidro is a quick 20 minute train ride (or 1 hour bike ride) from Capital. Most travelers bypass this stop en route to Tigre leaving San Isidro a hidden gem frequented by porteños looking for a quick city escape.
Unbeknownst to locals and foreigners alike is San Isidro’s buzzing urban art scene. Distinct from San Telmo’s graffiti-covered walls, Zona Norte’s street art embodies a different vibe. It’s as if the colors are more exaggerated, the murals larger, the characters more bizarre, all weaving into a constantly evolving story with each scene bleeding into the next.
On my bike ride through the graffiti-stained walls of San Isidro, I came across 10 extraordinary creatures. Here are their stories.
This fellow is timid by nature, but adventurous at heart. He’s youthful and awkward, sweet and creative, and reminds us that every new beginning is an overwhelming mix of excitement and fear.
The original pioneers, these fearless creatures may take some warming up to. However, look beyond their robust physical appearance and you’ll see their gentle demeanors. Hesitant, yet loyal, these striking characters balance power with humility, and strength with fragility.
Emerging from a toxic-waste river, it may be your initial reaction to jump back from this gruesome brute. A crocodile tentacle, frog binoculars, and flashing pupils could make anyone quake with terror. Yet, this creature is clearly misunderstood. His tremendous lips and concerning eyes give way into his hidden personality. A beastly first impression, but a big friendly giant at second take.
Rumor has it, these two faces have been seen elsewhere. Black, grandiose pupils, stricken with fear spark initial sentiments of worry and concern. Eager to see their full faces, we somehow can’t quite quench this desire. They’re already gone. A common theme in Argentine art are the images of children that disappeared during the military dictatorship. For every work of art that expresses this unfortunate event, there is a different interpretation.
Glazed, half-open eyes, and a cheeky smile (left) this guy may have sniffed too much spray paint. Yet, still, an appreciated character to add to this motley crew. By far the most amicable of the personalities, I can almost hear the ches and boludos being muttered in between soft chuckles. It may take a second, but if you look at this oddity you’ll see a pair of enormous eyes, a triangle nose, and two plump lips (right). An obvious outcast, this little guy is the most commonly overlooked. But don’t brush him off quite yet. Two arrows protrude from his cheeks following the gaze of his eyes. He’s caught my curiosity, and I want to know more.
My heart is full when I see these two lovers in an almost dance-like movement. Their love is something cosmic as vibrant shades of blue and red highlight every curve, shadow, and muscle of their embrace. He loves her, and the feeling is obviously mutual. Star-crossed lovers, long-time sweethearts? No matter their beginning, I love their love.
This cute little thing is an unexpected bundle of joy that stands in between two large murals placed far apart. Her surroundings aren’t the prettiest…but that just allows her to shine even brighter. Wherever she’s going, whatever she’s doing, I want to be on her planet wearing a smile as simple as hers.
I’ve struggled to crack this critter’s code. It’s a blob at best, maybe even a ghost if you squint with one eye. But what are these (nearly) beheaded bodies surging towards it, and most importantly why? It seems as if this little fellow might be taking on a domain of its own…and I don’t want to stick around to be a part of it.
San Isidro’s true emperor, this half-man/half-gorilla creature is hard to miss. His tusks make me fear him, but his eyes say doting-leader. A fierce protector, no doubt, I want jump into this technicolor forest and feel his sheltering embrace.
Dive headfirst into Argentina’s continuously evolving art scene and take a day trip to San Isidro. Experience it’s vibrant street murals through your own lens and you’ll surely encounter some interesting characters.
If you’re interested in learning more about street art in Buenos Aires, join us for a tour through the colorful streets of San Telmo for a guided history and art tour.