Aruba wall art: from ancient to modern days

fontein-cave-painting

At our upcoming Kings Spray street art festival we will have an area with a tropical touch: the Aruba Art Square. Right here artists will create works inspired by Aruban folklore and the exotic pirates of the Arubean. Children can also dive in the Caribbean vibes by joining our cave painting workshop. An activity inspired by Fontein Cave, a famous place for the ancient drawings on its ceiling. You might be wondering: what does cave painting have to do with graffiti and street art?

Graffiti and street art are contemporary art practices, however, their motivation’s roots may lay in ancient times. The need to express feelings through shapes and symbols exists since the cave men. These so-called symbolic behaviors differ on surfaces, materials and periods, but there is more in common between them than we may notice at first sight. We can even consider cave drawings as a form of ‘ancient graffiti’.

The famous Fontein Cave

Mysterious and multiple meanings

The paintings and engravings found in caves and shelters – also known as cave art – date back to the Ice Age, somewhere between 200.000 and 7.000 years ago. The majority of these images depict large wild animals, such as mammoths, bisons, horses and deers. Moreover, hand prints and abstract symbols are also common representations. In general, experts concluded these images have symbolic or religious functions, sometimes both. Their exact meaning though remains unknown.

Representations with religious purposes are likely associated with rituals. History shows that during those times, our ancestors saw image making as a sacred act. On the northern part of Aruba, the famous Fontein Cave indicates some clues of this interesting behavior. Drawings in reddish brown color on the cave’s ceiling and other artifacts reveal that the native Caiquetio Indians of the Arawak tribe once performed tribal rituals in this location. These indigenous people are the first known inhabitants of the island. Their paintings suggest that they may have come to Aruba after fleeing attacks from the Carib Indians, a tribe that inhabits the north of South America.

Cave drawings by Caiquetio Indians

Visual records of humankind’s history

As seen in Aruba, cave paintings around the whole world provide a real sense of history. For instance, the first register of symbolic thinking in humans – the capacity to use symbols – cannot be seen in skeletons because fossil records don’t expose complex neurological changes. In this case, researchers traced such cognitive achievement through cave paintings.

Humans’ natural need to communicate messages and abstract ideas on walls is obviously the main connection between contemporary graffiti, street art and ancient rock drawings. When we consider how much these remote symbols tell us about the development of our species and broader history, we can look at contemporary art forms on the city walls with different eyes.

Thus, graffiti and street art are a genuine way to preserve modern society’s history, which can give clues of our times to future generations. In the sunny Aruba, you can also enjoy multiple urban contemporary murals and discover the wall’s heritage of our globalized times. Find out about our favorite artworks in the island in the article Street Art in Aruba.

Example of artwork children can make during the workshop

Cave painting workshop

Make sure to join our cave painting workshops on Kings Spray! A great oportunity to dive in ancient graffiti, while contributing to our current scene.

Workshops timetable: No-stop from 12:00 to 17:00 on April 27

Price: It’s free!

Location: Kings Spray street art festival at NDSM-wharf, Amsterdam

 

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After living in São Paulo for a few years, Giovanna fell in love with art in the streets. This motivated her to be involved with the production of events in the public space. Aiming to be more specialized in this topic, she did a Master in Arts and Culture in Rotterdam. There she explored the role of SAT's upcoming museum in the legitimation of street art. Currently, Giovanna works with collection management and research at Street Art Today.