Lisbon is a city full of colour. It’s not just the houses and the tiles which add to it’s allure. The city is known too for it’s street art and graffiti. The remnants of a revolutionary past where murals, posters and slogans would shout out from the streets.
Now, some of that still exists, but many of the bigger works are done with the full support of the local council. Graffiti is still plentiful despite that. Many of the side streets and doorways particularly leading from the centre are awash with tags as well as the occasional paste up or stencil.
The Best Street Art to See in Lisbon
So out of all of these pieces, what should you go and see? Here is our list of the ten best pieces of street art to see in Lisbon. They are numbered for ease though the order doesn’t necessarily signify anything. Rather, these are just ten great pieces of art.
1. OS Gemeos, BLU and SAM3 – Av. Fontes Pereira de Melo
On one of the busiest streets in Lisbon, three decaying buildings host a much photographed selection of pieces. From the Brazlian artists Os Gemeos, Italy’s BLU and Spain’s SAM3 they have been there since 2010. Perhaps the plan was to demolish the buildings at some point but still they survive. The paint and the brickwork flaking away as each year passes.
2. Bordalo II – Av. 24 de Julho 28
A Lisbon local Bordalo II is known for his street art sculptures made out of trash. Recycling materials that would otherwise have been disposed of. His works can be seen around the world but Lisbon is where the heart is and a number of his pieces can be seen in the city.
3. Shephard Fairey & Vhils – Rua da Senhora da Gloria
A dynamic collaboration between Lisbon local Vhils and the enigmatic American Shepard Fairey. These are two titans of the street art scene so when they chose to work together it was a big deal. The result is a unique portrait of a woman wearing a headscarf and looking down upon one of Lisbons streets.
4. Eduardo Kobra – Rua Alberto José Pessoa, Marvila
A giant portrait of the Brazilian chief Raoni Metuktire can be seen in the Marvila district to the east of the city. It was part of a series of street art murals created during 2017 during Lisbon’s year as the Ibero-American Capital of Culture. Kobra’s unique style is identifiable across the world and this piece, in celebrating the indigineous cultures of Latin America is one of his most enduring.
5. Pichiavo – Rua de Santa Apolonia
Spanish duo Pichiavo’s unique blend of the classic with the urban is always hugely popular. Their work in Lisbon overlooks the railway and the sea. It depicts Poseidon looking out to the ocean and was created in 2018 to co-incide with their solo show ‘Versus‘ at the Underdogs Gallery.
6. Shepard Fairey – Rua Natalia Correia
A throw back to some of the revolutionary murals that would have once filled the Lisbon streets. Shepard Fairey is known for his campaigning art. He famously produced the ‘Hope’ poster which was so influential in Barack Obama’s 2008 election campaign.
7. Borondo – Rua Prof Sedas Nunes & Rua Rio Tejo, Padre Cruz
Two murals, separate but together, painted as part of the MURO Mural Festival in 2016. Spanish artist Borondo’s Rivers 1 & 2 pieces have been created in different parts of the Padre Cruz neighbourhood, one in the old district and one in the new. In creating the pieces he was exploring the problems with integration between the different parts and seeking a connection between them both.
8. Add Fuel – Av. Infante Santo 23-25
Portuguese artist Add Fuel’s blue and white tile masterpiece fronts the busy Avenue Infante Santo. The installation covers the staircase from the road up towards the apartment blocks on top. His inspiration is uniquely Portuguese. From down the coast in Cascais, he would have been strongly influenced by the many intricately patterned tiles adorning the buildings of the area.
9. Sainer – Av. Alfonso Costa 20
One half of the famous Polish street art duo, Etam Cru. Sainer’s old woman, cigarette in hand is an impressive sight. From the coastal town of Gydnia in Poland, he painted this piece in 2015. Flanked by a goose and dog she stands aloof blowing smoke away into the opposite direction of the viewer. Simultaneously she offers us her hand as if allowing us to pay some sort of homage. It is a hand which reaches out to us as if emerging from a haze.
10. Vhils – Tv. Merceeiras 27-1
It’s only right that we include a solo piece from Vhils. Dating from 2012 this is an earlier and simpler, yet no less impressive, example of his work. Possibly the best known street artist in Lisbon his work is now sought after around the world. He is also heavily involved in the local Lisbon street art scene as a key player with the Underdogs Gallery which actively promotes public art and local artists.
Lisbon was visited between 1-3 February 2019 and 7-14 September 2019. All the photographs and research was undertaken during those two trips. In addition to this piece we’ve also written features on the street art of the Padre Cruz, Marvila and Torre neighbourhoods.