Vhils, Bordalo II, Aka Corleone, Tamara Alves or Mário Belém are some of the most impressive names in the urban art scene in Lisbon.
In recent years, the city has become one of the world's capital of urban art, with major names like Obey Giant, Eduardo Kobra or Os Gémeos leaving their mark at Lisbon's walls. But seeing all the best works in one day might be difficult, so embark with us on an alternative tour around the city.
Open-air artwork in Lisbon
American artist Shepard Fairey is best-known for his project Obey Giant, which includes the “Hope” poster used in Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. In the summer of 2017, he brought his iconic style to the neighbourhood of Graça. On the side of a building on Rua Natália Correia, he painted a woman wearing a revolutionary beret and holding a rifle with a carnation in its muzzle. In the same area, he collaborated with Vhils (Portuguese artist Alexandre Farto) to create a mural representing a woman’s face, on Rua da Senhora da Glória, Graça.
At the end of last year, Bordalo II (Artur Bordalo, the grandchild of painter Real Bordalo), drew 27,000 visitors to his solo exhibition, Attero,in an abandoned warehouse in Marvila. But before that, he had already grabbed the attention of Lisbon residents with the giant animals he makes from the rubbish he picks up in bins or on the street. One of his most amazing works is the raccoon in the Cultural Centre of Belém’s parking lot, which was made in 2015. Let’s hope it never runs away.
Street artist and illustrator Tamara Alves, the only woman on this list, painted one of her best murals in Cais do Sodré, on the building that holds the Café da Ordem dos Arquitectos, at the end of last year. It is called “Disquiet Heart” and was created as part of the Dias do Desassossego arts festival. It is inspired by a quote by José Saramago: “If you have an iron heart, good for you. Mine is made of flesh, and it bleeds every day.” Don’t miss the 25th of April tribute mural by the same artist, at Fórum Lisboa, on Avenida de Roma.
He’s one of the most well- known Portuguese artists, with the most international exposure. On top of having an art gallery in Marvila called Underdogs, curating exhibitions from various national and international street artists, Vhils (Alexandre Farto) has his own artworks sprinkled all around the city. The one that gets the most praise from tourists is the tribute to fado singer Amália Rodrigues, made in mosaic- style Portuguese pavement. It’s in Alfama, on Rua de São Tomé, and results from a collaboration with Lisbon’s official pavement craftsmen.
Marvila’s industrial streets are full of secrets, especially since the start of the Wall Festival, which held its second edition in the area in May 2017. Lisbon’s Urban Art Gallery has even started training local residents to give guided tours of the murals. Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra’s portrait of Amazon indigenous leader Raoni Metuktire is one of the most impressive ones, on Rua Alberto José Pessoa.
She’s the most popular lady in Olaias, painted in 2015
by Polish artist Sainer on an 11-floor building – the city’s largest mural. The artist is famous for his large-scale works and this one on Avenida Afonso Costa is no exception. When he arrived in Lisbon, Sainer already had a sketch of the woman. He added the dog and the duck as he was painting.
Painted in 2010 by the famous Brazilian duo Os Gémeos, this mural initiated a new era for urban art in the city. Painted on an abandoned building on the corner of Fontes Pereira de Melo Avenue, it’s is a joy for anyone stuck in traffic there. It was created as part of the Crono project, which also includes works by artists Blu from Italy and Sam3 from Spain.
The neighbourhood of Quinta do Mocho used to be known as one of the most problematic inSacavém,butitacquireda different reputation from 2013, when its buildings started being painted by street artists. Nomen’s mural, which represents a woman removing a mask, has almost become the trademark of this neighbourhood turned art gallery. It was made during the O Bairro i o Mundo festival.
Things to do in Lisbon: five artworks you must see
One of the most mysterious and valuable works of Portuguese art, the six Panels of St Vincent are believed to have been painted (in oil and tempura on oakwood) between 1470 and 1480, probably by Nuno Gonçalves, a court painter known to have been active between 1450 and 1491. There are various interpretations regarding their content and meaning, although it is generally agreed that they depict the veneration of Lisbon’s patron saint in the context of the Avis dynasty’s military campaigns against the Moors.
This dragonfly-woman brooch made of gold, chrysoprase and diamonds is not just any old piece of fine jewellery – it’s a masterpiece by René Lalique, one of the most talented figures of France’s Art Nouveau arts and crafts movement of the late 19th century. It was very much commented on when put on display for the first time at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1900.
Along with the fado singer’s black shawl, this work by José Malhoa is one of the main symbols of this archetypal Lisbon music. Though much criticised by intellectuals when it was completed in 1910, the painting (or rather paintings – there are two, of which this is the larger one) is now a fado icon. To paint it, Malhoa spent 35 days in the home of Adelaide da Facada (a woman who was no better than she should be), where she and the fado singer Amâncio posed for him. They are depicted with various iconic items, such as wine on the table, a pot of sweet basil with the traditional scrap of paper bearing a verse attached, the Portuguese guitar, religious prints of the Senhor dos Passos and São Lázaro (both saints who were very much venerated by Lisbon residents), cigarette stubs on the floor. There is also a fan, a pair of bandarilhas (from bullfighting) and a photograph of a toureiro.
Bought by mining and media magnate José ‘Joe’ Berardo in 1998, this painting by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) of a woman in an armchair has been valued at 18 million euros, making it one of the most valuable in his fabulous collection of modern art. The pyramid-shaped figure was painted in 1929 and probably first shown in public in Paris in 1932. Seven years later, it helped make Picasso’s name in the US, as part of a big exhibition of his work at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.