As you walk through the city center you can be overwhelmed with the cacophony of brightly colored graphics.One of the locals suggested I should take a walk around the Exarchia district. It is a regular neighborhood with flats, shops, bakeries, cafés, schools, business buildings. However, the graffiti is spilling off the walls and seems like locals don't notices it. People seem to ignore it or not care at all. A local very popular department store chain had in fact used graffiti styled wall decorations. I asked a lady who lived in that neighborhood as to what she thought about it. She said she appreciated the ones that were artistic but not the ones that were anarchistic or the ones that damaged properties.
Well, when you have seen a few you can figure out which artist has made which graffiti.Mostly one piece of street art has no relationship to the next. There are a few pieces of such quality that will make you wonder if perhaps it could adorn the walls of a gallery.
All the more interesting , I found out that some of these graffiti is commissioned by the municipality.As is in Miami and Toronto .In a conversation with a street artist who was a student at the local art school, I learnt that street art is different from graffiti.Graffiti depicts defiance and separateness and includes as a central component letters that are artistically presented, whereas street art involves an image.The style and technique of a graffiti could also be unique to an artist. Basically, street art is graffiti with a college degree.
When you see graffiti sprayed on public places you probably assume that people in that area have no pride in it's surroundings or environment.You might think those running the place have lost control and also perhaps where the youngsters feel lost or alienated. In fact, Greece is going through a tough time in it's history in terms of economics. People are using street art to protest, demonstrate, express and share their angst and as defiance.
I discovered this interesting side of Athens on my way to the Acropolis and exploring the neighborhood of Exarchia and realized that Athenians embrace everything about their culture , present or past in the most unapologetic way.