Lisbon is like an open-air museum featuring Wes Anderson’s color palette.
The walls have a cheerful personality, and they’re mostly covered in carefully crafted azulejos or painted in audacious colors; some just feed a minimalist’s soul as no other European capital can.
Oh, and the street art is magnificent!
Street art is an intrinsic part of Lisbon’s culture, so I naturally wanted to explore the best murals and maybe discover new artists. And I did, but…
It’s the first street art guide I do that seemed difficult because the pieces are too scattered around the city. And Lisbon is not just a big metropolis, but also a hilled one, where you have plenty of uphill walks and the high temperatures to go with it.
And since exploring is in my nature, a guided tour to Lisbon’s street art was not an option. But I found that two or three of the best street art pieces in Lisbon disappeared.
The abandoned building dressed in PixelPancho’s and Vhils’s iconic street art pieces of Lisbon was demolished, leaving us a bit lost and puzzled, just like the Portuguese woman we stopped on our way for guidance.
We all know street art is ephemeral, but realizing it while standing in front of a demolished beauty is heartbreaking. And so we left Jardim do Tobaco for new street art explorations in Lisbon.
- 10 places where you can find street art in Lisbon – 5 hours tour (with addresses)
- 2 Revolutionary Portuguese Street Artists in Lisbon
- Missed opportunities to capture street art in Lisbon
- Other street art pieces in Portugal – Cascais, just outside Lisbon
10 places you can find street art in Lisbon
5 – 6 hours tour: works, artists and address
- Utopia63’s work at the Lisbon’s Portela Airport
Finding the first street art piece in Lisbon is easy because it welcomes you at the airport.
This dreamy street art piece is signed by Utopia63, who has done a lot of work on Lisbon’s streets. His art seem to me a manifest for the right to daydream, a praise to the power of imagination, as its distinctive imprint are those amazing colorful eyes.
The metro station near the airport has also some lovely graphic works.
- The Giant Raccoon by Bordalo II near the Belem Cultural Center
Turning garbage into colorful art to raise social awareness on the ecological issues and sustainability, Bordalo II’s works are amazing, making him my new favorite street artist.
Passing by the Belem Cultural Center and going towards Belem Tower, you can see one amazing giant raccoon. It’s so colorful you cannot miss it, and it’s a fascinating mix between street painting and a 3D sculpture made out of old tires, spare auto parts and home appliances, and a lot of unidentifiable junk.
This must be one of his recent and best pieces, since he uses the raccoon’s face as his profile picture.
Bordalo II is a revolutionary street artist since he actually turns other people’s garbage into remarkable art pieces. Because I love his works so much, I’ve included more words about him below.
- The Crono Project in Picoas – Fontes Pereira de Melo
Picoas Metro Station is where you’ll find some of the best works done within the Crono Project. There are three abandoned buildings covered in the most amazing street art pieces on Av. Fontes Pereira de Melo.
The Crono Project was created between 2010 and 2011 as a way of establishing an itinerary of Urban Art in Lisbon. Its manifesto reads:
‘Crono’ emerges from a commitment with Urban Art based on the premise that we are all as ephemeral as all our creations – a way of reflecting upon time and enhancing a new dimension of the city: the city as a living organism which is built and created in a spontaneous, natural and free way. It is within this dynamics of appropriation of Lisbon’s spaces that, over four stages which correspond to the four seasons of the year, several commissioned paintings with an urban impact and the registering of different environments of the capital throughout time will be carried out.
With the aim of establishing an itinerary of Urban Art in Lisbon over four periods of the year, a selection of internationally renowned artists will be invited to develop interventions alongside Portuguese artists and local communities in a process of ‘urban curatorship’, which has the support of the Lisbon City Council in providing locations in the city for this purpose. *quote’s source
Ericailcane and Lucy McLauchlan worked on the first of the abandoned buildings in Picoas, creating the bird couple and the giant crocodile that has become so popular among street art lovers worldwide.
The blue giant in the night covering the second building is called La Noche and it’s the work of the Italian artist Sam3. He’s also the hardest to capture, especially with the heavy constructions works in the area during my visit.
BLU & Os Gemeos embellished the third abandoned building. BLU created the corporate king zipping from the world and Os Gemeos (Two Brothers) created the surrealist yellow man which seems to be a signature of the two Brazilian twins. Both works seem to be social satires.
- Pastel Horse by Aryz on Rua Manuel Jesus Coehlo
The pastel colored giant horse on Rua Manuel Jesus Coehlo is amazing and it’s just a few steps down the street from Avenida metro station.
The first gaze will make you think this mural is impressive by size only, but a closer look will reveal a powerful contrast between colors and subject, creating a sense of magic realism.
The giant horse is the work of the Spanish street artist Aryz and there’s an exceptional beauty to it. It’s also a little bit peculiar to me as it evokes a merge between the world of the living and the one of the dead in pastel cheerful tones, offering an interesting glance into Aryz’s vivid imaginary world.
- Aka Corleone and Hedorf’s artwork on Rua de Sao Bento
There are 4 pieces of street art on Rua de Sao Bento, some new, others commissioned, but all equally beautiful.
The first and most notorious one is commissioned by KLM to celebrate 75 years of flights between Lisbon and Amsterdam. AkaCorleone and Hedorf are the artists behind this beautiful typography-like street art piece that depicts the two cities; I found it to be one of the most colorful murals in Lisbon.
A giant map of the world is depicted just behind Aka Corleone’s piece, but I didn’t manage to find out the name of its maker.
These two pieces dress the buildings near the bus stop, so you cannot miss them, especially since these walls border a parking lot.
The bus stop at Rua Sao Bento also has two abstract street art pieces behind it.
To grasp just how deep the street art roots go into the city’s culture, just take a look at this funny garbage can. And there are lots of painted bins around the Lisbon as I found out from Nuno @nmfragoso.
Didn’t manage to see the beautiful artwork by Drawing Jesus on Sao Bento Palace, but maybe you will as the palace is a few blocks away.
- Cyrcle mural on Rua Presidente Arriaga – Travessa dos Brunos
One street art piece is left in Travessa dos Brunos from the two that once embellished this neighborhood.
The remaining work is created by the American street duo Cyrcle and it covers a narrow façade of a building located two streets down from the Travessa dos Brunos – a colorful passage you just can’t miss.
In this area, there used to be a street art piece called “Madonna and Child” by the French artist C215, but the façade is now painted in a yellowish pastel, and so another piece of street art disappeared from the city scene.
Street art in Lisbon is more ephemeral than anywhere else I’ve been. And maybe the reason has something to do with old buildings being renovated much faster than in other big European cities. Essentially, that’s a good thing as the city looks so very new, but it’s also a bit sad for street artists and their fans.
- Bordalo II’s fish bank on Avenida Ceuta – Alcântara Terra
Another painstaking beauty signed by Bordalo II is crafted on the Avenida Ceuta, in Alcântara-Terra.
It looks like a fish bank, and its location is really thought through as this is a major traffic artery. The artwork seems to me like a more straight forward message from Bordalo II, pointing the drivers to the environmental issues facing our planet.
Nearby, I also found some unknown graffiti works.
- Vhils & Nomen on Rua Cais de Alcântara & Avenida da India
The long wall on Rua Cais de Alcântara is full of street art pieces, but the most amazing art pieces are created by Vhils and Nomen.
Vhils is the other revolutionary artist I’ll write a bit more in this article because of his awesome technique: he carves and drills the walls.
His relief portraits are amazingly accurate and minimal. One of his works is on Rua Cais de Alcantara, the other one is close by, on Avenida da India. As you can see, both are remarkably detailed for the technique he’s mastering.
Nomen’s works in Lisbon are also really beautiful. He is a local artist with a distinctive style – vivid colors and emotions blending in to create magnificent street scenes. Love his “brush” strokes!
Other street art works in Rua Cais de Alcântara:
- LX Factory (R. Rodrigues de Faria 103) – Bordalo II and other street artists
LX Factory is the place to go if you want to see the hip part of Lisbon.
Sheltered in an old factory area, this mix of well-designed spaces, bistros, coffee shops and restaurants will make you feel the creative vibe of the city. Wishing I would have gone there sooner as 2 hours before the flight back home was a much too shorter visit to discover all of its hidden corners.
3 street art pieces you shouldn’t miss in LX Factory:
Bordalo II’s giant bee made my heart all warm and fuzzy because I had the chance to take a much closer look at his technique and materials. The eyes of the bee are made from old fans and its legs are both sculptural junk and spray paint (which I find pretty amazing).
There might be more street art awesomeness at the LX Factory, but I was in a little bit of hurry, almost missed my plane back, so apart from other creative spaces in this corner, I couldn’t find more artworks. But maybe you will, if you save half a day for Lisbon’s most creative space.
- The Girl near the Azulejos Museum – Rua Me Deus
If you love the colorful Portuguese tiles as much as I do, you must pay a visit to the Azulejos Museum in Lisbon.
On your way down the street, you can find bits and pieces of street art featuring a little girl. Sorry I can’t remember where I found the artist’s name, but hopefully it will come my way again.
The technique used in these artworks is very interesting since it blends the usual painting style of most street art works with the leisurely lines of traditional graffiti, creating a beautiful sense of movement of the blue dress.
2 Revolutionary Portuguese Street Artists: Bordalo II and Vhils
Artur Bordalo aka Bordalo II (Segundo) turns garbage into art to raise social awareness on ecological issues
Bordalo II is a revolutionary street artist since he actually turns other people’s garbage into remarkable art pieces, mixing the art of painting with sculptures, in order to raise social awareness on the ecological issues of our society.
Love him because of his well-defined concept and because the sustainability cause is one I can really relate to. He is creating a series of colorful 3D animals that speak to the huge impact of consumerism and the garbage it produces on our planet.
If you think a bit about his Animals series, created from the junk we produce – old tires, home appliances, it’s a bit ironic as the pollution usually extends beyond the city limits, affecting the wildlife.
Besides the raccoon, the bee and the fish bank I found in Lisbon, there are lots of other pieces in the Animals series, mostly in what looks like abandoned places. As much as I tried, I couldn’t find more info on their location and I’m feeling lucky to have bumped into 3 of his artworks by chance.
Just a quick recap of Bordalo II’s street art pieces I found in Lisbon:
- The Raccoon > Belem, near the Belem Cultural Center
- The Giant Bee > LX Factory, R. Rodrigues de Faria 103
- The Fish Bank > Avenida Ceuta – Alcântara Terra
Alexander Farto aka VHILS – the amazingly detailed relief portraits with a Drill
To destroy is to create seems to be the guideline of Vhils’ work, a Portuguese artist who brought a one-of-a-kind technique to street art: the pneumatic drill.
Etching and carving old facades of abandoned buildings, he manages to create beautiful relief portraits by layering bricks and other construction materials.
As his technique is so remarkable and unique in the world of street art, I naturally began searching for more information about him. I found out how he might have arrived at these “deconstructions” – they seem to emerge from his childhood memories, growing up near Lisbon and witnessing the effects of the passed revolution on the walls of the city.
Saw 2 of his relief portrait works in Lisbon on Rua Cais de Alcântara & Avenida da India, but I also had the pleasure of seeing his work within the Big City Life – Tor Marancia project in Rome (in January 2016).
More lovely works by Vhils on his site.
Missed opportunities to capture street art in Lisbon
Since I only had 5h to see the street art in Lisbon, there are some beautiful pieces I didn’t get the chance to capture. For you, but also for a future visit, I’ll mark what a little research revealed to me:
- Violant’s amazing artwork on Rua Natália Correia
- Smile and Draw artworks on the Blue Wall – Rua das Murtas
- Odeith street art in Rua Santa Barbara
- Etamcru – The old lady on Av. Alfonso Costa
- Nomen on Av. Conselheiro Fernando de Sousa
- Santa Apolonia Coast is also full of street art and graffiti works
Can’t tell you how sorry I am about Vhils and PixelPancho’s demolished works in Jardim do Tobaco. Hope they’ll do something similar in the near future as those surrealist murals were some of my favorite street works in Lisbon. Until then, I’m just going to play their making-of video.
Other street art pieces in Portugal – Cascais, just outside Lisbon
A short afternoon visit in Cascais revealed some interesting street art works. Found one azulejos stencil artwork by AddFuel and a beautiful one Dalaiama, and a red house covered in abstract street art.
If you want to use this article as a Lisbon street art guide, please keep in mind that street artworks are ephemeral and check for new information before going to visit them. It will save you precious time from your holiday in Lisbon.
Lisbon Street Art Tour on a Map
My mobile photos only – Copyright © Ana Matei | June 2016 | Lisbon, Portugal
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