The fight against time to keep alive a lost graffiti of ‘Muelle’ from almost 40 years ago in La Latina

The fight against time to keep alive a lost graffiti of ‘Muelle’ from almost 40 years ago in La Latina
The fight against time to keep alive a lost graffiti of ‘Muelle’ from almost 40 years ago in La Latina

Rehabilitation works on a residential building on Cava Alta Street, in the Centro district of Madrid, have revealed a hidden historical gem: the famous signature signed by Juan Carlos Argüello Garzo, known as ‘Muelle’. Considered the first Spanish graffiti artist, ‘Muelle’ left his mark in the history of Madrid urban art and his signature, with spirals that end in the shape of an arrow, is iconic within the Madrid scene.

Socialist councilor Antonio Giraldo announced this discovery, highlighting the vulnerability of the signature because it was made with a marker, which means that if left outdoors, it could quickly disappear. “It would be interesting to make a reproduction of it. indicating that the original is below,” Giraldo suggested.

Last Thursday, Giraldo and his partner Adriana Moscoso visited Cava Alta Street to evaluate the state of the firm. The workers in charge of the work assured them that would avoid damaging the signature as much as possible, probably saving 80% of it. However, in the absence of specific legislation to protect these artistic manifestations, the future of the firm remains uncertain. After protecting it for a few days and biting for now in other areas, this coming week is key to deciding its future.


The signature discovered is located on the façade of a building on the corner of Toledo Street, in the heart of the La Latina neighborhood, an area frequented by many tourists. Since the rehabilitation work includes repair of a downspout that passes right behind the signature, there is a high probability that the wall will be chipped, putting the preservation of the graffiti at risk.

Faced with this situation, Giraldo called on the community to find a quick and technical solution to preserve the signature. “We are about to lose a Pier,” he warned. The councilor has detailed that the graffiti is located on private property, with authorized works and there is no legislation that protects the conservation of the signature.


The debate over graffiti preservation also reflects a clash of values ​​between the appreciation of ephemeral art and the need for urban development, as seen in the responses to Giraldo’s tweets. There are those who believe that this graffiti should disappear along with the old structures to make way for new constructions. In fact, they point out that as Ephemeral art should not be maintained over time.

The councilor advocates documenting these works, something that only individuals do, and there are those who defend that it is an indispensable visual narrative of local history, part of Madrid’s cultural identity. In the end it is a debate about how to balance respect for the past with the demands of the present.

‘Muelle’, icon of the movement

The ‘Muelle’ graffiti, in addition to being a symbol of the Madrid scene, is also a testimony to the first boom of graffiti in Spain during the 80s and 90s. This style, known as ‘flechero graffiti’, inspired numerous artists such as Bleck, Tifon and Daniel Guzmán. Unfortunately, most of the ‘Muelle’ works have disappeared over time, leaving very few in the city.

The history of ‘Muelle’ and its art is an integral part of Madrid’s cultural heritage. Although some of his works have been restored, such as the one on Montera Street in 2017, many others have been lost.

[La historia del grafiti en Madrid desde las pinturas negras de Goya sobre unos muros: “Tiene que ser ilegal”]

‘Dock’ invented the rules of the first generation of Spanish graffiti artists. The artist always painted in places that did not spoil the urban landscape and, above all, respecting private property, he used to say that it was necessary to make “a decorative signature that does not generate an expense.”

Since 2016, with the government of Manuela Carmena, The graffiti artist Muelle has his name on the Madrid street map, specifically in a space between Carabias street and Extremadura promenade. The then Government Board thus recognized Juan Carlos Argüello, Muelle, (1966-1995), one of the pioneers of graffiti in Madrid with a characteristic signature. He was the culmination of an initiative that started from the Latina district, where it had been approved with the votes in favor of Ahora Madrid, PSOE and Ciudadanos and the abstention of the PP.

Currently, very few of Argüello’s graffiti remain: there is only one on Montera Street, in the center of Madrid, and another on Seseña Street, in the Latina district. In 1993 the urban artist stopped signing because he considered that his message was already exhausted.

 
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