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Panama Guide

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Tuesday, June 19 2018 @ 10:37 AM EDT

Pull up to their bumpers and see some Panamanian art

Theater & Fine Arts Bus art? You can expect to hear that question asked several times when the fourth Liverpool Biennial opens in the city from next month. The festival, held in the city every other year, celebrates contemporary art and as anyone who has scratched a head in puzzlement over Turner Prize winners will know, that could mean some very strange things. At the FACT centre, for example, one Norwegian artist will be contributing work that consists entirely of smells, while at the Liverpool Tate an American's work will be simply voices. Neither will offer anything to actually look at. So thank goodness for Oscar Melgar and Jesus Jaime, from Panama, two other artists contributing work to the Biennial. I found them working in a concrete lock-up near Great Homer Street, where they were creating very recognisable images. Here were footballers, singers, musicians and famous faces, all created in a straightforward figurative style. Naturally, this being the Biennial, there had to be something different and there was. They were painting them on the sides of buses. The pair have travelled to Liverpool to paint a series of buses, some for community groups, others that will be used by the general public. It's an art they have practised for the last 20 years. Visitors to Panama City, their country's capital, will have seen examples not only of their work but a variety of others. It is a tradition there that buses are painted in individual styles. Indeed, although the buses have numbers, the locals often prefer to call them by names. The bus painters of Panama have a distinctive style. Not for them the commercial advertising that we often find in Britain, but individual fine art as generally requested by the bus owners.
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