A colorful urban facelift. Artists from Lima have recently completed a gigantic scale painting of an entire underprivileged neighborhood of the Peruvian capital, with the aim of improving the living conditions of its inhabitants.
Since last February 8, the bare desert hill of San Cristobal in Lima, on the slopes of which more than 60,000 people live in modest houses in the slum of Leticia, has become a giant multicolored pictorial work restoring joy in the Peruvian capital.
The restoration and painting work was funded by the Municipality of Lima as well as Qroma, a private Peruvian painting company. This slum renovation initiative has created jobs and taught a trade to many residents.
A painting of nearly 305,000 m2
Baptized “Rainbow Project”, this monumental fresco has covered the facades of more than a thousand homes, i.e. nearly 305,000 m2. In terms of area, it is much larger than other similar examples of urban art in Latin America such as the Chualluma district of La Paz in Bolivia or that of Las Palmitas de Pachuca in Mexico. But in these neighborhoods, only 150 and just over 200 houses respectively have been painted in bright colors.
This giant pictorial work required nine months of work by a team of mural artists who directed around a hundred residents of Leticia aged between 18 and 60. This made it possible to “give color” to their living environment and thus to change the image of their neighborhood considered dangerous.
“Every time I go out on my doorstep, I see the colors, I feel happier, that’s what is most important in this work,” 37 muralist Daniel Manrique told AFP. years and one of the initiators of this community work. “Residents now feel proud, happy and responsible where before they didn’t care about the outside of their home or their living environment. Now they are aware of the coexistence between neighbours,” he underlined, referring to the community work carried out by the population of the slum.
A fresco with pre-Columbian Andean motifs
The artists were inspired by pre-Inca motifs such as the chacana (or chakana in the Quechua language). Also called Andean cross, this is a strong and omnipresent mythological and cosmogonic symbol throughout the Andean world. In the shape of a staircase, it represents the very close links that unite heaven and earth. “It invites us to connect with neighbors and improve the quality of life in our neighborhood,” Carla Magan, a mural artist who participated in the “Rainbow Project” initiative, told AFP. “Art is a weapon of change,” she added.
This renovation offers a new face to the neighborhood and to the entire community that composes it. The hill of San Cristobal where the slum of Leticia is located suffered from its image for a long time. From the 1930s, its slopes were overcrowded by people coming from other regions of Peru, to find a better life in the capital. For decades, it was perceived only as one of the most densely populated areas of Lima where poverty and danger reigned. In addition, the monochrome of the mountain and the modest houses made of odds and ends, with gray or brown walls, brought an additional touch of sadness and gloom to the whole. Now the hill with its small dwellings enhanced with bright tones, has “taken on colors” in order to change the perception of the inhabitants of the shantytown but also of Lima towards it.