All City Canvas

Artist: Robert Shimizu, Gonzalo Alverez, Victor Hugo Celaya
Year: 2012
Location: Mexico City
Researcher: Adriana Rios Monsalve

In 2012, Mexico City hosted All City Canvas, a major street art festival with eight internationally recognized artists. The objective was to bring art practices usually relegated to the outskirts of the city to the center to be presented to a large audience who would not only see the result, but the entire creative process. Mexico is internationally renowned for its modern murals, a movement called Mexican muralism that influenced other Latin-American countries, and this served as a good excuse and inspiration for this festival.

The greatest difference between muralism and this type of street art is that it is not used as a vector for government discourse – it is in fact diametrically opposed to it. Street art is about denouncing and shining light on issues that are relevant to our times.The artists were chosen from all over the world and were not given a specific topic. What was striking with this festival was that iconic downtown buildings were chosen to be the canvasses of this contemporary art form for the first time.

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The buildings chosen were: Paraguay Building, located in the heart of Lagunilla a neighborhood from colonial times; Reforma Avenue Hotel, that survived the 1985 earthquake and is located on the most important avenue of the city; Universal newspaper, located at the entrance to the historical downtown and founded in 1916; Dolores Building, which marks the entrance to Chinatown, since the 1920s; W Hotel, located in one of the most luxurious parts of town where government officials, corporate people and tourists collide and Chihuahua Building, located in Tlatelolco, and a witness to many historical events.The eight internationally renowned street artists were: Roa (Belgium), Interesni Kazki (Ukraine), El Mac (USA), Herakut (Germany), Vhils (Portugal), Escif (Spain), Saner (Mexico) and Sego (Mexico).

A series of events and paintings took place from April 30 - May 5, 2012, and this became a model for large-scale street art festivals in Latin America, mainly because it brought a kind of art usually secluded to underground places associated with criminality, right to the heart of downtown Mexico City, giving it the artistic status that it has nowadays.Although for visitors and locals the artists’ names were not so well known, actually having access to the creative process and witnessing their impressive skills in producing a painting of this scale, became the main focus of the festival as it connected the passersby with art and reconnected locals with their city.The event had three components, called: Walls, Words and Works. Words refers to the academic component; Walls, to the big-scale artworks on the streets; and Works, to small-scale works in galleries.

All City Canvas started as a weeklong festival with considerable international acclaim, and has now become an ambitious production platform for street art around the world.

All copyright belongs to Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, Shanghai University.

Progress Agency