Color and community spirit transform Buenos Aires slum

Argentine and Belgian muralists transformed grey facades into a colorful open-air gallery that celebrates the people and spirit of Saldías, one of the biggest slums of Buenos Aires.

Saldías is only meters away from one of the most sophisticated places of Buenos Aires, but it is one of the biggest slums located in the core of Buenos Aires city.

In an effort to liven up the community and make it more inspiring for residents, residents and artists came together to make the public space more inclusive and more human.  The idea was to bring internationally recognized muralists to Buenos Aires to create street artwork with a social impact on the community.

Buenos Aires Street Art and Art & Swap invited a group of Argentine and Belgian artists to transform grey walls into an outdoor gallery, with the help of Alba paint. A variety of cultural events were planned in the community to bring over 1,000 people together around the artwork over the course of several days. 

The subjects of the murals help to blur the boundaries between the slum and the other neighbourhoods that surround it.
One of the artists was so inspired by the spirit of the community that he decided to capture the likeness of some community members in the main 800-square-meter mural.  Spear, the Belgian artist who designed and painted the main mural said, “Making a mural means leaving a part of me alive in this beautiful city. When I met Ana María Sanchez, I knew I had to portray her.

Her simplicity, her role in the community (she leads Saldías recycling cooperative), and her smile both inspired and moved me. She and Zoe Ludmila Maluzan, two-year-old daughter and granddaughter of community members, are the protagonists of this work.” 

Ana María is excited about the finished result and its role in her community. "I've never imagined anything like this,” she said, “Every day I walk past this mural to go to work and now everyone in the neighbourhood is talking about me. Spear is a real genius. He portrayed me and my daughter with great tenderness, and now I give color to Saldías neighbourhood.” 

Alba donated over 400 liters of paint for the murals as part of AkzoNobel’s Human Cities global initiative and the “Let’s colour” program, focused on protecting and rejuvenating landmark spaces for the communities and cities we live in.  Verónica Araujo, Communications Manager for AkzoNobel Latin America, Spanish-speaking countries said, “We take pride in being able to transform a city space with essential color and show how it improves the daily lives of neighbors.

Cities really can be humanized with color, so we have committed to making them more vibrant.”  The murals are now part of the community and will remain with the local people to make their lives more colorful.  In the words of Martín, who lives in the area, “If this area was grey when it was hot, imagine what it was like when it rained or in the winter.

Now a hug and two smiles guide me on my way home. It gives me goose bumps, reminds me of my family and makes me realize that at the end of the day it only makes sense to bring color to life.”