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Street art and the stories they tell

Mohamed Rehan
10 January 2022, MVT 12:29
Murals across walls of Rinbudhoo streets -- Photo: Rinbudhoo/Facebook
Mohamed Rehan
10 January 2022, MVT 12:29

Although I had seen several pictures pop up across the respective Instagram timelines of several of my friends, it was until very recently I had an intimate look at the beautiful murals in Dhaalu Rinbudhoo. This beautiful residential island somewhere in the central parts of the Maldives is a budding destination for backpackers, leisure and budget travelers alike. It is much like most other islands catering to the guesthouse or local tourism industry – but with a unique sense of style visible throughout the island.

Wall murals and street arts are not an entirely new concept within the Maldives, but rather it had found its roots long before guesthouse tourism was incorporated within the island nation's ever-expanding travel and tourism sector. In fact, street art and graffiti had entered into the contemporary culture of the island nation around mid to late 00s.

However, it was rather seen as an act of delinquency by rebellious teenagers and off-beat youths rather than a form of art here in the Maldives, paralleling the sentiments much like the rest of the world. But for the eyes that appreciated creativity regardless of form or medium, graffiti was still art and it had found a permanent place in the sub-culture of the island nation already.

Coming back to the topic of wall murals and beautiful street art found across various panels of walls in Rinbudhoo, one thing can be said conclusively – that much like any other art form, the street art is representative of the place from where it originates. Which is to state that there are stories hidden within the intricately drawn landscapes or abstracts. It might be attempting to tell a grand-scale tale of the island itself or sometimes, the paintings are expressions of their artists – their latent emotions or feelings, that needed just the right medium for expressing.

The murals found across the island attempt to tell the idyllic livelihoods of most of the residential islands – peaceful people living in harmony with the nature surrounding them and getting the benefit of the lush vegetation. Or the art tries to amplify the pristine qualities that are familiar to almost all of these tropical islands – white sandy beaches, palms growing in beautiful randomness, the canopy and shade they provide, the beauty of rustling palm leaves against one another with the wind and the turquoise to teal waters surrounding the islands.

The more intimately I looked at the art, and through a more subjective scope, the more I found the deeper sentimental tales it carried with it which also made me ponder over just how much street art is representative of the culture of the different cities or countries from which it is hailed.


Caledonian Lane (off Little Bourke Street), Melbourne - Photo: iExplore

From the vibrant graffiti abstracts scaled across the Hosier Lane to lesser conspicuous lanes and alleys, Melbourne is noted as a street art lover's delight and everywhere you looked, you would find picturesque walls ready to be clicked on your camera of phone. The simplest form of describing the art found in the streets of Melbourne would be; coming-of-age with tinges of rebellious yells to it. Perhaps the various artworks by pseudonymous artists were their attempts to capture the essence and aura of the city or what it tried to represent to the outsiders.

Regardless of what message you took away with you, the murals and street arts told stories that were subjective based on who was interpreting them – and perhaps, that is what makes such art appealing to some while not so much for others.

Buenos Aires

A mural in a street of Buenos Aires -- Photo: The Culture Trip

This is a city that is home to some renowned international festivals such as the International Contemporary Art Biennial of South America as well as the areBA contemporary fair. The art found ini Buenos Aires are not just some of the most breathtaking pieces you will come across ever in your various quests in foreign lands, but also some of the most though-provoking as well.

This city is home to the large-scale pieces by renowned creatives such as Nicolas Romero Escalada, better known as Ever, Martin Ron and Milu Correch who had given some majestic pieces to awe and inspire upon.

Perhaps the most accurate description of the artworks found in Buenos Aires will be; regal and provocative (in a good way!).

New York

An iconic graffiti mural in a solemn street of NYC -- Photo: Time Out

This city that never sleeps is often credited with founding the art of graffiti in the United States. It all started at Queens, which used to be ideally described as the "heart of street art scene" but gentrification had washed up the years of work of several artists and since then the whole street art scene has shifted towards Bushwick, Brooklyn.

The art found the streets of New York's districts are much like the city itself; modern, radical and contemporary – it is representative of the struggles of the working class as well as the abstract realism between culture and modernism. To sum up the vibe of the street art of New York, one would suggest that they are rather direct and on your face.


This city should no longer be identified only within the circles of lovers only, but also for the atmosphere it has created to welcome art lovers. Graffiti is commonplace for anyone taking a stroll across the streets of Menilmontant and Belleville in the 20th arrondissement.

Unlike the large murals and frescoes, you would come across in Brooklyn, the art here are dozens of small images and some of these include works by the famous French artist Jerome Mesnager such as the Man in White or Nemo.

A beautiful mural painting in a Paris street -- Photo: Paris Info

The art found in the streets of Paris are more eccentric in nature and embodies the rooted culture of the city as well given many of the works represent emotions or feelings that echo the characteristics of the city. They are stylish yet classy while most of these works carry within them signature styles familiar to French artists.

Drawing, sketching or painting regardless of the medium is one of the most intimate forms of art due to the depth at which artists are able to relay their emotions. Be in angst, agony, confusion, joy or jolly, artists render beautiful pieces that represent these in their most vibrant and visceral. Put the works on various walls across the streets of any city then it becomes symbolic of the city itself; as they represent stories and tales of the city – the interpretation however, lies with the one observing them.

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