Pico Culture #04 - Soundsystems aesthetics (Baranquilla)

Above painted wood piece is an original decoration from the pico "El Solista", carefully conserved by a fanatical pico lover.
From the 70s each pico developed his own aesthetics through colorful paintings and decorations on the speakers and the control tower. This transmits a real identity to each pico, and can be inspired from pure psychedelic figures (El Dragon, El Cobra), or from personal experiences (for example, El Coreano was created by a colombian man who went to fight in Korea war), or from musical artists (El Pijuan), or from revolutionary figures (El Gran Che, El Gran Fidel). The visual identity personifies the pico, and usually transmits a message of power ("indestructible", "la potencia africana", "guerrillero de la salsa").

It really contributes to glorify the soundsystem, as being also considered as a piece of art.

Several painters during the 70s were specialized in decorating the pico. The most famous may be Edilberto De La Hoz. Eddy (see above) was one of them and still perpetuates the pico spirit and aesthetics, painting replicas of historical soundsystems such as "El Coreano" or "El Pijuan".

On saturdays, when every bar (or particulars) play their soundsystems, you can find such mini soundsystems (called "replicas") shouting champeta, 70s nigerian soukous or afrocolombian sounds. 
These paintings represent a kind of visual recognition saying: "here we dont play shit music, we play musica picotera!"

In southern districs of Baranquilla as Barrio Santo Domingo, pico culture remains alive in many forms, but some clubs stay stick to the original 70s aesthetics :

On the other hand, northern part of Baranquilla never really adopted the popular "darker" pico culture (and some people hardly conceive a foreigner going to Santo Domingo area). But recently some interesting initiatives emerged; as example some designers seek inspiration in Baranquilla's cultural heritage, including  pico aesthetics, and expose it in a gallery :

(Todomono design gallery, Northern Baranquilla)

Very stylish and conscious approach, even if reflecting the gap between two social backgrounds of Baranquilla, as real places where you can find picos rather look like this:

(still operational "cantina", Barrio El Bosque, Southern Baranquilla)

The best source on the subject, with many hard digged pictures of pico aesthetics, is probably Baranquilla's activist africolombia.

To be followed here:
► Pico Culture #05 (Zimbabwe Hits with Alex Aleman)

Muzzicaltrips "Pico Culture" Serie, follow here :
► Pico Culture #01 (Introducing el pico)
► Pico Culture #02 (Terapia africana mix)