Hidden Art of the Barrio Oeste – Salamanca, Spain – Shelby Kinch ’22

One afternoon as I trekked home from class through the scorching midday heat I took a wrong turn and found myself in a quiet alley in the suburbs of Salamanca. Salamanca, located in the Castile and León region of Spain, hosts one of the world’s oldest universities and centers around the stunning Plaza Mayor, a breathtaking square surrounded by elegant balconies and teeming with life. Extending from the city center, the local neighborhoods are formed by tall beige buildings cracking under years of sun and adorned with flowery balconies. Though unassuming at first glance, these buildings host some of the most beautiful artworks the city has to offer.

As I wandered home aimlessly that Tuesday afternoon I was confronted by Alma, a stunning street art piece by Theo Magma, which depicts a watchful eye, vigilantly protecting its quiet street. I was fascinated by the way in which the balconies above Alma projected shadows over the work which varied as the sun moved throughout the day. 

Pictured: Alma, Theo Magma, Calle de Fray Luis de Granada

Further down the same street another pair of eyes looks down upon the Plaza del Oeste, a face composed of black and blue paint drips which complement the deep blues of the summer sky.

Pictured: Unknown Artist, Calle de Fray Luis de Granada

Part of what captivated me about these beautiful works which fill the streets of the Barrio Oeste was the way in which they integrate into their surroundings, placed intentionally to complement the colors and lines of the neighborhoods in which they reside. These works adorn the garage doors and private residences of this neighborhood and their brilliant colors interplay with the textures and shadows of the city. 

One such example is Eric Persson’s work on Calle de Valle-Inclán, painted over the metal creases of a garage door. These creases cause a flickering visual effect throughout the work, creating pockets of shadow across the figure’s expressionless face. The grey and white hues of the work allow it to sink into the rough plaster of the surrounding walls. Murals like this one work within the frame of the neighborhood, blending with the colors of the textured buildings around them, creating a living gallery.

Pictured: Untitled, Eric Persson, Calle de Valle-Inclán

The street art which fills the Barrio Oeste of the city of Salamanca provides a fluid and versatile gallery space for local artists. The beauty of these works is highlighted by the movement around them- changing sunlight, a parked car, or a lost cat can change the way the viewer interacts with the color and content of the work. The art of the Barrio Oeste integrates the antiquity of a historic city with the daily movement of modern life and provide a unique viewing experience to anyone lucky enough to stumble upon it on a hot Tuesday afternoon.

Pictured: Unknown Artist, Calle del Palacio Valdés

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