If you are not into street art, don’t bother going as far as Lagos, in the Algarve, the southernmost region of Portugal. The town is very touristy, restaurants aren’t inspiring and, besides a few charming houses in the city centre, the town is made up of ugly concrete buildings and huge hotels.
But if you are into street art, Lagos is the place to go! Especially if, after a graffiti hunt, you fancy a rest at one of the many beautiful beaches not so far from the city centre.
Lagos’ exciting street art scene is all thanks to LAC (Laboratorio de Actividades Criativas), a cultural association that, since 2011, has organised ARTURb (Artistas Unidos em Residencia), a project that brings some of Europe’s best-known street artists to live and work temporary in Lagos.
After an early breakfast at the harbour, I crossed the drawbridge heading towards the first mural on my list, a majestic work by the Spanish street artist Aryz depicting a skeleton with some camera skills. Using his iconic pastel shades to play with transparency, light, shadow and depth, in this mural titled ‘Tempus Fugit’ (2014) Aryz meditates on time fleeting and life’s ephemeral pleasures, which therefore must be enjoyed in the present. Carpe Diem.
From Aryz’s mural, I kept walking along Avenida dos Descobrimentos as far as an abandoned area where I could spot some more graffiti. Unfortunately, they were all pretty faded; the only one worth a picture is this work by Paulo Arraino, a very detailed swirly piece painted in 2011.
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Taking Rua Dom Vasco da Gama from the roundabout in front of Arraino’s mural, I reached the LAC Headquarters, which is located inside Lagos’ former prison. This is the place where guest artists set up exhibitions at the end of their stay in Lagos but, on that day, there was nothing going on. No biggie: outside the building, there are three amazing works:
One incisive ‘streetment’ by ±MaisMenos±
This unusual work by the Spanish artist Borondo:
(I love how the face just takes shape in the roots and the wall; actually, this work was the reason why I decided to visit Lagos in the first place!)
And a big (well, bigger than usual) mural by the French artist C215:
Strolling down Rua Nova da Aldeia later on, I spotted several more stencils by C215, all of them on electricity boxes:
while I found one more mural by Borondo near the old fort walls of Lagos:
Just around the corner, I found a large-scale mural by the Polish artist Sepe, which is titled ‘What goes around comes around’. The theme of the ‘wheel that turns’ is suggested by the same subject repeated in different areas of the mural: as the shades of colours change, the subject changes too and the stick he used as a weapon becomes his own cane. Moreover, this man is painted with a chest larger than usual, making him looks strong and powerful.
From here, I stepped outside the city centre and took Rua Filarmonica Primeiro de Maio as far as Eime’s mural, which was painted in 2013.
Back downtown, I wandered around the narrow cobbled streets of Lagos’ city centre. This area is full of small yet beautiful pieces and, on Rua Prof. Luis de Azevedo, I found the glorious LAC Art Gallery. Being August, there was no exhibition going on, but I had the chance to meet the guys behind Lagos’ street art revolution and we had a very nice chat. Besides the street art gallery itself, more highlights of the area are a portrait by Frederico Draw painted in 2015 and a creepy frog by Sainer, from the renowned Polish duo EtamCru, painted in 2012.
One year later the other half of the duo, Bezt, come to Lagos to paint a huge mural on Rua Lancarote de Freitas, just in front of Lagos’ Cultural Centre. Bezt is the part of the duo more devoted to realism: his scenarios, although from a dreamy world, always manage to be quite realistic. He often paints women, as in the case of this mural, which is titled ‘Meeting the God’.
On the same street there is also a beautiful mural by Addfuel + Samina, painted in 2013. It took me one more day and getting up at an ungodly hour to take a decent picture, as on the day of my graffiti hunt there was someone parked in front of it. Anyway, it was totally worth it, as this work combines Samina’s old man multiplied portrait with the two things I loved most about Portugal: street art and azulejos (the traditional Portuguese tiles).
Right above it, there is a colourful ball of yarn by MAR, painted in 2012.
Walking a bit further, I found ROA’s snails, painted in 2013 during ROA’s first trip ever to Portugal. ROA is a Belgian artist famous for his large-scale and very detailed animal paintings in black and white; usually his art plays with the hair of his sketchy monochrome animals, but this time he painted a duo of snails (which don’t have hair), and the final effect is even more impressive.
One more work by ROA is near Lagos’ camping area and it depicts a flamingo on its back.
Walking past the flamingo you can reach one of the most popular beaches in Lagos: Praia Dona Ana. After such a great hunt, it’s time to relax yourself! ☺
LAGOS: EATING OUT
As I mentioned above, the whole town is full of low quality touristy restaurants; the only place I feel like suggesting is The Garden, an open-air bar just behind ROA’s snails. Here I had a cheeseburger and a couple of beers; nothing special, but the atmosphere was really nice.
If you are planning to graffiti hunt through the whole country, check out my Lisbon street art guide!
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MORE PICTURES FROM MY WEEKEND IN LAGOS
Enjoy the video of my holiday in Portugal:
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