Proposal El Tanque



Objective: Receive more visitors to El Tanque, and raise the visibility of this unique landmark.

What is the kind of visitor who will love El Tanque? The same type of visitor who enjoys seeing urban artefacts and urban renewal projects. El Tanque is itself urban art at its best. Surrounding it with more street art — painting the outside — is a perfect match. Urban murals will strengthen the building and vice versa. Great artwork may give El Tanque critical mass to draw visitors who might only go to the city center otherwise. Rather than letting the bottom few meters on the outside accumulate with poor-quality graffiti, let El Tanque serve as a canvas for the great artists we have in Tenerife.

Artwork on El Tanque can build on the “Puerto Street Art” and “Sumérgete en Santa Cruz” projects that are transforming Tenerife into a world-class street art center, which does in fact draw tourists (take a look at the map in to get an idea of the street art patrimonio that Tenerife has).


El Tanque is a cylinder. This allows for potential illusions new to the (generally flat canvas) street art movement: when you draw on the outside of the cylinder as if you were drawing on the inside, which will play tricks on the viewer as they move. Santa Cruz has the unique possibility among cities of having two large cylindrical structures that can be painted: El Tanque and the plaza de toros. (See xxx for a sample of what happens when you draw on the outside as if it were the inside — in this case a sphere.)

My proposal is to make the bottom 3 meters of El Tanque look like a giant fishtank, but filled with oil instead of water. Think of the oil as the deep sea, so the fish will be mutant, fantastical versions of the grotesque deep-sea fish. The metaphor is that we’re filling the ocean with trash and oil (as in the recent oil spill of the Russian boat), and these bizarre fish are the result. We can title it “Crude aquarium”. The mural can provide a notable counterpoint to the large murals of ocean scenes painted in Los Cristianos: this mural is a “what might be” depending on the decisions this generation makes. While the message of this mural is a warning, the effect does not have to be depressing: exotic creatures can be fun too.

All around the perimeter, at a height of 3 meters, we paint the oil, with waves and crests and spray to add to the ocean metaphor. We paint the very bottom black too. In the middle, the black lightens up to reveal the exotic creatures swimming around.

Scan_20160226On the uphill side of El Tanque, where people from Meridiano will walk down to reach the corner facing El Tanque, it will be painted as if you’re looking through the metal to see the top of the oil in the fishtank — the illusion of painting the inside of El Tanque. Since the focal point — where the viewer is standing — is only slightly higher than the 3-meter height, this top section will be a fairly narrow band.

While I don’t necessarily like the idea of telling artists what to paint, I think in certain cases, the impact of a single vision in a large canvas gives an impact that would be impossible if we were to paint a number of smaller separate images. In drawing fantastically grotesque fish, there is plenty of room for individual imagination.


  • As a natural space for urban art, the perimeter walls surrounding El Tanque should be designated legal graffiti walls. Sabotaje al Montaje already did a great mural on one of these walls. The entrance could be opened when El Tanque is open.
  • The space around El Tanque has lots of trash (and bagged trash too). If nobody cleans it, I could get a group from Voluntariado Ambiental to go every 6 months. We could plant some cactus there too.
  • Many parts of the outer wall are revealing rust and need painting, especially about 15 meters from the top. In my opinion, the money to repaint might take a long time to approve, so I wouldn’t want to tie this project with that one. A bit of decay is okay.
  • There are a number of fat tubes coming out at the very bottom. We could paint a dial and make them look like faucets to empty the tank.
  • There is a set of stairs going up. This is often a space for graffiti artists (see the tanks at Cueve Bermeja). We could do a variation of the evolution chain: a reptile climbs out of the oil, above that a mammal, a man, then a man in a car, filling up on gas using the


This is a very rough estimate of the costs. It is based on the april 2014 document from the “Puerto Street Art” project:

160 m circunferencia x 3 m height = 480 m2
Pintura base y pintar base (hace falta?): 480 m2 x 11€/m2 = 5280€
Pintura final: 4000€
Mano de obra de pintar: 250 horas x 35€/hora (se puede negociar) = 8750€
Montar andamio (comprar madera, carpintero): 800€
Misc: 1000€

Total: 19,830€

With a platform made of wood rather than steel, the painters themselves can move it themselves.

This proposal was rejected by the director of El Tanque in March, 2016. He says that after the crisis, El Tanque’s budget went from 175,000€ to 15,500€. I then offered to paint 5 meters of the mural for free. This was also rejected.