In the artsy Barranco District of Lima, Peru, one finds a long meandering path known as the Bajada de Los Banos. Pedestrians stroll casually along the quiet and leafy walkway, which after a short distance, turns into an amazing outdoor art gallery of colourful and hypnotic street art. As I ambled onto the walkway I couldn’t help but stop and gaze in wonder at the bold murals that depicted a diverse, political, and captivating Peruvian society, which I was just getting to know.
Serenaded by two Peruvian musicians singing romantic love ballads, I entered the public home of Lima’s musicians, photographers, and artists. With permission from the Peruvian government, artists like Los Salvajes, Jade Rivera, Yandy Graffer, and Elliot Tupac have been given the green light to express themselves through their street art, turning Barranco into a haven for artistic expression. Each artist conveys his own distinct style whether it be gritty, whimsical, poetic, or controversial. Similarly, each captures the attention and imagination of those like me, who stop to witness the engaging masterpieces that adorn the outside walls of neighbourhood bars, museums, galleries and parking lots, as giant canvases. The idea is to see them while you can because sadly, many of these large, dynamic murals that left me in awe will be around for only a short time. Those which I viewed in December 2017, will most likely be gone in a few short years. As engaging as urban street art is, it is not meant to be permanent and is replaced over and over again with new, freshly painted images.
Built in 1876, the historic and famous Bridge of Sighs, or Puente de Los Suspiros, overlooks the bohemian neighbourhood of Barranco, and its dramatic murals. The heart of Barranco, the Bridge has a history all of its own, and was once used as a meeting place for philosophical and cultured contemplation by Peru’s notable writers and poets. Once upon a time, young Peruvians in love flocked to the bridge in order to whisper their heartfelt affections for one another. The sentimental murmurs and sighs of the amorous Peruvian lovers ultimately accorded the Bridge of Sighs its sentimental name.
Exuding beauty, history, charm, and diversity, the vibrant district of Barranco, with its Puente de los Suspiros, Bajada de Los Banos, and exquisite street art, is an alluring area of Lima that helps make it one of the truly unique cities of South America.
“I understood that my work couldn’t just be about beautiful colors, but should have a social message and display Peruvian identity.” ~Elliot Tupac