Mural de Valparaiso

Artist: Inti Castro
Location: Valparaiso, Chile
Year: 2012
Researcher: Adroama Rios Monsalve

In 2012, internationally acclaimed street artist, Inti Castro, painted a 50-meter long mural on the sides of old buildings in Valparaiso, his hometown in Chile.Valparaiso has a history of murals and street art to the point that some people refer to it as the most tagged city in the world. There are murals that go back as far as 1969 when a group of modern artists painted on the back walls of the city’s hills. About 60 murals were made at that time, some by artists as well known as Roberto Matta and Mario Carreño. Currently, tourists and visitors can take a graffiti tour around town.Of the contemporary Chilean street painters, INTI is probably the most popular of all; his works occupy wall space all over the world, including Beirut, Paris, Cali, Sao Paulo, Rabat, to name a few.

The Valparaiso mural it not the first one he has done in his native city, but this one is particularly outstanding because it takes up three buildings, it is the first time he painted a character sideways and it is situated at a location with no public access. It can only be seen from a distance, from two points in town; one is Paseo de Atkinson in Concepción Hill the other one is from Cárcel Hill. It has definitely become an icon for tourists as well as locals.

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It was the National Arts and Culture Council and the City of Valparaiso who invited him to do the mural. Typically, INTI does not accept commissions since he likes to have complete control over where and what he paints. After some negotiation however, this particular location became his ultimate choice and he produced this mural during the Festival of the Arts in 2012.INTI’s murals are well known internationally for their combination of elements derived from Latin American indigenous and popular cultures and the incorporation of contemporary political and territory-specific elements.In this mural the artist particularly evokes Kusillo and Ekeko. Kusillo is the native buffoon who dances without planning and often uses improvisation and Ekeko is the God of prosperity. In this three-part mural, INTI combines the two characters and the clothing includes his signature multi-cultural references from all over Latin America. In an interview, INTI says he did not want to generalize about Andean culture, but rather to make a personal comment about his Latin-American roots. Ekeko and Kusillo combine popular elements as a way to wish the best in life to Latin American people, without losing their spontaneity and reminding everybody of their origins.

Not the most ambitious of his projects in terms of scale, and one that received relatively little international coverage, it has however been well received in his home town of Valparaiso. It could be said that it’s sometimes easier to interpret someone else’s culture rather than one’s own – take for example his work La Mancha in Spain – whereas INTI chose to speak to his people with their own cultural references.

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

Progress Agency