AP PHOTOS: Greek graffiti artists spray thoughts

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Photo - In this photo taken on Thursday Feb. 20, 2014, a motorcyclist passes the work 'Access Control' by Greek street artist iNO, on central Pireos Street in Athens. Greece has attracted international street artists to its capital, due to the availability of commissioned work and relatively lax anti-graffiti law. (AP Photo/Dimitri Messinis)
In this photo taken on Thursday Feb. 20, 2014, a motorcyclist passes the work 'Access Control' by Greek street artist iNO, on central Pireos Street in Athens. Greece has attracted international street artists to its capital, due to the availability of commissioned work and relatively lax anti-graffiti law. (AP Photo/Dimitri Messinis)
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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Ancient Greeks chiseled their messages, often rude or boastful, into marble. They would probably be amazed how the illicit art form has evolved in the country's capital centuries later.

Graffiti covers entire buildings, trains, and is disrespectfully scrawled on the statues of respected ancestors. The vandals are often graduates of Greece's fine arts schools, who have sometimes spun their street art into commissions.

Loudly expressing opinions is a national pastime that has only grown more raucous during the social upheaval caused by Greece's deep financial crisis. Vacant storefronts, acres of shutters reinforced against rioters are the canvases that have helped attract artists from Greece and abroad to spray their thoughts in Athens.

Mindless tagging this is not: Violent confrontations with police, stateless children of immigrants, and the rise of a political party whose leaders were inspired by Nazi Germany are among the issues turned into art.

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