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Celebrating 10 Years of Underdogs

Words:

Edd Norval

Photos:

Alexander Silva
February 1, 2021

Looking back, it’s been a crazy year. The whole world changed in a way and at a pace that nobody could have foreseen. At Underdogs, as celebrated in their new Underdogs Artists - a decade [2010-2020] book, it’s actually been a crazy decade. For so many artists in Portugal - as well as street art itself - things changed in a way that nobody could've predicted, setting out a unique trajectory in the art world and fully documented here. 

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Underdogs embody their name. Case in point, they come from Portugal. When the company was first founded, art in Portugal was very much underground. There were some big names, but apart from those select few, Portugal wasn’t a name on anybody’s lips. However, during their inaugural decade in business, that all changed.


In the mid-2010s, Lisbon became the place to be. It was the ‘new Berlin’, where creatives and travellers flocked to en masse soaking in the city’s vibrant culture, a gateway to the rest of the country, where things were just as exciting. Although this sounds like a win-win, it wasn’t quite so simple.


With every boom follows a bust and Portugal had to be protective of not becoming another flash-in-the-pan rise and fall story, as have so many other ‘it’ cities. Underdogs were able to harness the abundant creative energy in developing a vision for the hitherto hidden talents of Portugal’s artistic scene, whilst helping build a sustainable model where their artist's would be nurtured and promoted. This was a big opportunity of Portugal to show the world what it has known for some time.

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The way that Underdogs were cautious was - despite sounding contradictory - by taking risks. Building up a strong roster of artists and fostering a deep culture of collaboration, the brand was soon promoting their own packed-out exhibitions featuring a combination of national and international talent. 


It was easy to miss it too, after all, that 10-year period had the feeling of passing by at break-neck speed. If you blink, you could easily have been passed by. Fear not though, all of Underdogs' activities are contained in this book, featuring over 150 artists who contributed to building a distinctive voice in this emerging artistic capital. 


Helping to shape the perception of Lisbon and Portugal as a whole, Underdogs have promoted urban contemporary art whilst being an advocate for those very same artists. The cumulative effect is something far greater than art alone, but of a kinetic network of talent, whose works range from a sketch on a small piece of paper to incredibly large murals and stained glass windows. It’s all there, Underdogs not as gallery, but as cultural phenomenon. 


Limited to 1000 copies and designed by Solid Dogma’s Diogo Potes, this too will enter as a part of the Underdogs lexicon of work - a celebration that is palpable with every turn of the page.


Here’s to 10 more.

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