As far as urban art goes, Lisbon is growing. Nowadays, a visit to the city is incomplete without a street art tour, and the art itself tells you a lot about the history of this city.
Whether it is done with graffiti spray paint or reutilized garbage, abandoned buildings and walls are being transformed into truly artistic statements: here’s why. This is the best of the Lisbon street art scene.
Lisbon street art: what you can't miss
You may not believe it but the following work was done in only 10 days. This picture of a tall old woman smoking a cigarrete, surrounded by a duck and a dog is so surreal that it may frighten you. There is a feeling that the drawing might become real at any second. The work, from Polish artist Sainer, is called Crossroads and it occupies the side of an eleven-floor building at Avenida Afonso Costa (Olaias). This is one of the tallest urban works of art in the city.
If you’re visiting Centro Cultural de Belém then look for a racoon in the neighbourhood: he’s big, wide-eyed and has huge whiskers. Get closer. You’ll see that he’s made of plastic pieces, pipes, sofas and car bumpers. It was made by Bordalo II, a Portuguese artist who creates gigantic animals in three dimensions. He has made dogs, fishes and bees out of the things he finds on the streets, in order to transform our garbage into art.
Street art is being more and more valued in Lisboa and this installation proves exactly that. With the help of Lisbon’s City Hall, André Saraiva, Portuguese of French descent, created and coloured a world where the cities of Lisbon and Paris meet. The illustration is nearly 188 metres long and it’s made with ceramic tiles: over 52 thousand of them. All you need to do is head over to Jardim Botto Machado (near Feira da Ladra, the biggest flea market in the city) to see Lisbon’s most recent urban acquisition.
We hope this image in Alfama, does not go unnoticed. The profile of a woman, painted in black and white, over the pavement is Amália Rodrigues, the Portuguese singer that took Fado beyond Portugal’s borders. It was the director Ruben Alves’ idea and the artist who materialized it was Alexandre Farto (aka Vhils). Known for creating faces on building walls with pickaxes and small explosions, this Portuguese artist was part of Forbes’ “30 under 30 list” as one of the most influential young people in the world. You can find it between Rua de São Tomé and Calçada do Menino de Deus.
Does the sentence “I am the one who knocks” ring a bell? If so, head up to Rua Dr. Francisco Sousa Tavares, in Damaia. If it doesn’t, head up anyway because Sérgio Odeith’s giant painting is worth the detour, even if you’re not a Breaking Bad fan. The two main characters, Jesse Pinkman and Walter White, appear inside a car looking back suspiciously. This extraordinary painting was done using only spray paint and it’s 16 metres long and 4 metres tall.
The huge figures (a crocodile and a fat man, in a suit, sucking up the world with a straw) are already part of the landscape of Avenida Fontes Pereira de Melo. The vacant building has become an exterior gallery for renowned artists such as the Brazilian brothers Gémeos, Sam3, from Spain, or Lucy Mclauchlan, from the United Kingdom participated in this initiative which was fundamental in including Portugal in street art tour lists.
Whether arriving or departing, head up to Rua Manica, near Lisbon’s airport, to take this souvenir with you: that of a woman in a floral dress against a red background. Created by a Brazilian artist named Finok, it represents the crossing of these two nations, Brazil and Portugal – the skirt’s patterns are Portuguese, but the figure is a representation of the goddess of the sea, Iemanjá.
Dive into the Lisbon art scene
Are you into photography or would you rather stare at some amazing illustrations? Perhaps you are crazy about paintings. We've already covered the artworks you can't miss and now bring you the best art galleries in Lisbon with something for all of us. Recommended: The best Lisbon museums