If you follow the coast line away from the rush of downtown Lima, you will arrive at the centre of a small port town, Plaza Matriz. This location is not often visited by tourists and remains off-the-beaten-track, affording the more adventurous traveler the opportunity to have a real experience that few others have had before. The plaza is tranquil and overlooks the small boats dotted around the bay. However, don’t let this calmness fool you- something exciting stirs in the backstreets here.
This is one of the prime locations to spot some of the most beautiful examples of Peruvian street art before the crowds begin to flood in. As you wander around the streets, you can’t help but be enthralled and delighted by the numerous murals that adorn the facades of the houses here. Every corner turned shows a new and stunning piece to be admired and inspired by.
But what are they all doing here? In fact, these graffiti murals were all instigated by a street art project called FUGAZ, which started only last year in 2015. This project aims to promote a cultural movement through urban street art, and the examples shown here are just some of the fruits of this work. I had the pleasure of meeting with Isa Miro Quesada, one of the project founders, who described how the project has developed in a non-invasive way in the neighborhood. In fact, the residents offered the facades of their houses as canvases for the stunning murals, and locals told how they helped some artists to paint and transport materials. The idea of FUGAZ was to directly integrate the locals in this way, and therefore improve their quality of life and bring other benefits through the beautification of their neighborhood, such as more visitors and business for them. Furthermore, through this urban street art initiative, the area can now become a space of connection and artistic enjoyment for both local residents and those who travel here from Lima and beyond.
Some of the artists whose work you can see here include Lucuma, Entes, Pesimo, Yandy Portocarrero, among other names you may not yet be familiar with (but trust me, you will be!).
Thanks to this initiative the area has grown into a unique and special barrio, now boasting a number of contemporary art galleries and innovative eateries (try ‘Veggie Pizza’, where there serve artesanal beers as well as good food).
Yet this project is not just about beauty, but also about representing Peruvian art in an environment where it can be safe and admired. Sadly, last year the mayor of downtown Lima, Luis Castenada Lossio (AKA ‘the mute’) painted over all the fantastic street art murals during his electoral campaign (in a block shade of yellow, I’m told), thereby destroying the work of the artists, and the aesthetics of the city that belonged to the people. FUGAZ hopes to rectify this problem and give back to the people what was taken from them, by injecting colour and beauty into a neighbourhood that had been otherwise forgotten.
A guided tour is recommended, as this is still a developing neighborhood and there’s lots to see here. For this there is really only one choice- Brenda at tailored tours Peru, who knows this area like the back of her hand and can share a great story or two.
It’s an experience not to be missed, so I suggest that anyone coming to Lima get in touch to discuss and arrange a visit. It will be a guaranteed highlight of any trip to Peru.
Whatsapp: (+51) 962-373-975
Beckie is a volunteer with the Karikuy Volunteer Program in Lima, Peru.