Too New for Guidebooks: the Murals of 25 de Agosto
Today we want to introduce an attraction of Uruguay which, in all likelihood, isn’t yet mentioned in your guidebook. When we enquired about the murals of Villa 25 de Agosto at the government tourist information office in Montevideo they didn’t seem to know about them, although you can find a short entry mentioning them on their website .
As a possible tourist destination they only gained attention quite recently. In mid-September 2015 the small town of 25 de Agosto held festivities to celebrate the official inauguration of the “Ruta de los Murales”. The murals are the brainchild of French visual artist Michele Dubaux who lives, with her husband, in 25 de Agosto and runs the studio Leoarti (LEO is also her signature on most of her paintings).
She painted her first mural in the town in 2009. Since then the number has risen to over 60, and more art is being added to the walls every few months. The majority of pieces were executed by her personally, others by artists and students of Leoarti.
Villa 25 de Agosto is a small town in the province of Florida, a good hour north of Montevideo by car. Somehow it looks even more sleepy than other rural towns we have passed through in Uruguay. 25 de Agosto is off Ruta 11. A major train line passes through and stops here, otherwise probably no one would find their way here. Except that now people will come for the astonishing number of finely executed murals on display.
Murals near the train station of 25 de Agosto
I have posted this in our ‘Street Art’ category, although the style certainly differs from the traditional understanding of street art. You find none of the impromptu coarse lines of spray-can paint, or the socio critical humour, which is often present in contemporary street art. The majority of these murals are finely detailed paintings, almost entirely brushwork, reminiscent of classic oil paintings. As a matter of fact a few are copies of famous works.
The style of 25 de Agosto’s murals ranges from Realism to Expressionist Art. Several are so realistically executed that they convey the famous French Trompe L’oeil style. Often local scenes, people, or stories have inspired their central motifs. Others are interpretations of classic art pieces.
Murals near the central plaza of 25 de Agosto
Apparently the artists usually incorporate the stories and ideas of the owners of each house they decorate. Horses seem to be one recurring favourite of Michele Dubaux. This makes sense because horses still play an important role in rural South America. They are essential for the Gaucho lifestyle and to draw the small carts of poorer peasants.
Murals throughout Villa 25 de Agosto
Our gallery post contains less than half of the murals to be found in Villa 25 de Agosto. To see them all, we encourage you to visit and stroll around this quiet little town!
Further reading & viewing [I found no links in English – all in Spanish]:
- Train connections from Montevideo to Villa 25 de Agosto
- Look out for a book! The artist Michele Dubaux declared her intention to publish a book which describes all the murals in Villa 25 de Agosto
- A very interesting interview with the artist Michele Dubaux on youtube