El nino de las Pinturas

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“Woah, what’s with all the graffiti here?” We had all just landed in Madrid, I was star-struck and could barely peel my eyes off the window as we drove to Toledo for the night. What I was seeing though was a lot of graffiti.

“It’s the youth here” Christian our tour guide explained, “it’s everywhere, just wait until you see Granada.”

“Isn’t there a famous graffiti artist from there?” another voice piped in, “el niño de las pinturas right? I’ve heard his work is incredible!”

The name stuck in my mind, I couldn’t wait to see this guy’s apparently famous graffiti. The next day we were in Granada and the graffiti hunt was on, I wanted to find this art. Fortunately a little wandering around Granada had us in front of el niño’s work in no time at all. The rumors are true, his graffiti is amazing. We found more than one wall with his signature on it and I got excited every time. There was something rich about his work, something that resonated with me; it wasn’t just things he painted, nor large misshaped words, but people. He painted beautiful faces, male, female, young, old, and they all were lovely and they all had value and something to say. Being that the murals’ accompanying phrases were always in Spanish I couldn’t exactly read the writing on the walls, but I know a picture that’s calling out for peace when I see it and that’s what his work resounded within me.

We left Spain on a boat for Morocco five days later, goodbye el niño, I thought, I may not see you again for a long while. The boat ride was short, these continents are close, so, so close. We were in Africa. I could hardly believe the different world we had so quickly entered. Everything was new. It was just a boat ride but suddenly the language was different, the people were darker, the driving was slightly more chaotic, the clothing more modest, and there were men everywhere sitting out front of cafés lining the streets of Tanger. I have to admit it took a minute to adjust—ok, more like two days. Suddenly what little Spanish I could speak was now completely irrelevant, French or Arabic was now the key to success, I was definitely out of my comfort zone.

Much to my surprise, I ended up falling in love with Morocco. And then, so quickly, it was time to leave. Its ruggedness had worn on me I guess, and all the new things had become friends and good memories, I was sad to leave. We had two days left, this time in Asilah rather than Meknes where we had spent most of our time. While walking through the lovely and clean streets of Asilah’s medina my heart jumped as my eyes took focus on a familiar art style in the distance. El niño’s been to Asilah! Suddenly the struggle I was having at the prospect of leaving became a much smaller issue. It’s a small world I realized. The gap I was feeling in my heart between the two worlds was suddenly bridged, a little bit of Spain had found its way into Morocco and I had found and fallen in love with both. Art, life, and beautiful people exist in both places and el niño successfully captured a little bit of all of that.

 

Granada

Granada

SAM_3693

Graffiti in Granada

Graffiti in Granada

Asilah

Asilah

Graffiti in Asilah

Graffiti in Asilah

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