Buenos Aires in Argentina has one of the most vibrant art scenes in all the world. Walking down the streets of the city, you’ll see colorful, political and passionate works of graffiti art on every corner. If you’re looking for a truly unique way to experience the art scene in Buenos Aires, one option is to visit the city’s only bar and urban art gallery in one, Hollywood in Cambodia.
Hollywood in Cambodia opened in 2006, when the owners of Post Street Bar decided to do something different with the space. They approached a number of stencil artists and asked them to help paint the interior of the bar. While the artists and owners got along well, the artists wanted compensation, as the bar was a commercial space. Because the owners didn’t have the money, they came up with a different plan. They offered the artists three rooms at the back of the bar, rent free, to use however they pleased. From there, the artists covered every inch of the bar and terrace with intricate stencil art. One room became a permanent gallery and shop, and the two others were transformed into temporary exhibition spaces. This is what visitors can experience today.The gallery is run by six artists: Stencil Land, Malatesta, GG & NN from bs.as.stncl, Fede Minuchin and Tester from rundontwalk. They run the gallery together, opening it from Tuesday to Sunday, from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. About 8 to 10 exhibitions are run each year, with works being showcased from a range of urban artists and art collectives.
While an art gallery being housed in a bar is, in itself, rare in Buenos Aires, there are other factors that make the space truly unique. First of all, it’s the only gallery in the city to focus solely on urban art. And, unlike other galleries, they are free from commercial pressures.
“They don’t have rent or bills to pay, so they can do whatever they want with the space,” explains Jonny Robson of graffitimundo, a main supporter of the venue. “They can take risks and showcase unconventional art, without worrying if it’s going to sell or not.”
What’s really interesting when you walk into the space is how hard it is to tell where the gallery starts and where the bar stops. All of the bar space – the outside walls, terrace and even the toilets – have been covered in art. This is because the artists use the bar as an extension of the gallery space, running workshops and video screenings. Understandably, the bar ends up being a popular place to hangout for the artists and their friends. In fact, exhibition opening nights showcasing cutting edge art often end up becoming wild parties.
“It’s a very special place, and very unique for Buenos Aires,” says Robson. “To be honest, I’m not sure if there’s anywhere quite like it anywhere else in the world.”
[photos via graffitimundo]