granada’s graffiti god, el nino de las pinturas

so back when i was hunting for graffiti areas in granada to walk though i came up with lots of suggestions to check out the windy roads of the albaicin, the old moorish quarter.  our airbnb host also gave us a map that, shockingly, had points of interest around town with small thumbnails of graffiti beside them.  this was the first time i had ever seen such a thing published on a mainstream tourist map so i looked a little closer.  all the thumbnails in the realejo neighbourhood had the same style; they looked like sketches and most of them had children in them.

further googling didn’t result in much, other than a few travel bloggers posting their pictures.  no details on the locations nor the painters aside from somebody by the name of raul ruiz aka: el nino de las pinturas.  that was as far as i got with the hunting as we were pressed for time to venture off to the alhambra.  fortunately those day plans took much longer than i expected because it didn’t create expectations nor ruin the element of surprise that the following day was going to bring us.

we spent the next morning walking up top by the alhambra to visit the carmen de los martires, which was a very relaxing two hours before we got ushered out of the gardens (thanks, infernal siesta break!).  as we ventured down towards the realejo hood, our plan was to walk the narrow streets and alleys and snap a few pics if we found anything worthy.  we were not disappointed.

around the corner of where we had lunch (and discovered the andalucian starter/puree, salmorejo.  yummm), our first piece was found.  it was tagged el nino… ahhh, so this is the man i’ve heard so much about.

DSCF06941we walk further along the street and find this heartwarming piece, also by el nino:

DSCF07071i get a feel for his style.  the paint strokes are thin and delicate and he uses the image of the cog.  across the street, i see the cog again.  the paintings form a pathway down a walkway and we follow it through to another alleyway.

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i look up and see a huge piece with a rainbow of colours.  i turn left and at the end of our alley is a detailed sketching of a female face, looking mysterious and seductive.  i make a mental bookmark the first mural and chase that other female down and double back the two blocks to the colourful mural.

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by this point i’m really digging el nino’s work.  the colours, the detailing, the emotion in the pictures.  the majority of street art i’ve seen feels two dimensional but the way this man paints, his characters exude emotion with their eyes, mouth, fingers and body positions.  i don’t mean to take away from other artists but instead to commend this man for his amazingly warm style painted onto what would normally be a cold, grey, concrete canvas.

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as we walk along this main road, my attention wanders down a sidestreet that has a huge mural by a different artist.  i snap my shots, follow the trail around the corner and am lead to another face by el nino.

DSCF07551i look back and haha is no longer behind me so as i curl around the block to find her, i find yet another face looking back at me.  mysterious.  quiet.

DSCF07591i want to show haha the picture of this woman and on my way back to the spot, one of the larger men waves me over.  “so you like graffiti?” he asks.  happy that he’s not kicking me out of their loading zone, i smile back and blurt out a “si!”.  he tells me to continue further along the road we’ve been taking, we’ll find a large playground with a ton of his work.  we’re told he lives a little down the road which would explain why the neighbourhood looks like one giant canvas.

piece after piece we find and i’m having to drag my jaw along the ground.

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form the building that i believe was his home:

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this one, i saw a video of him finishing it off after the outline of the man was completed.  from the lighting it seems like it took a full afternoon so the complete piece must have taken nearly a week.  beautiful and so vibrant.

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DSCF07981from other parts of the city:

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and i can’t forget about this piece at the sevilla bus terminal:

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this piece was massive. so cool to look upon this from the other side of the parking lot

i’ve read a few articles and interviews about how the municipality of granada has outlawed graffiti and may even have gone as far as to putting certain individuals, el nino included, on a blacklist.  there seems to be a lot of uncertainty about the future of street art in granada as the city’s council seems to have a differing view of the future compared to the city’s artists.  i don’t know how the complexion of granada will change in the coming years which makes this trip even more memorable to me.  i spent an afternoon walking through one artist’s portfolio spanning many years and at the end i still could not get enough.  mr ruiz, your neighbourhood was a pleasure to explore, your style is one of a kind and i hope that many artists follow in your footsteps.

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