Slinking down in the slums and peeping out when no one is watching, Brazil’s street artists liven up cities with beautiful artwork. Whether you call it graffiti or call it urban art, most people can agree that some of the art that has emerged on the city streets is a sight to behold.
Each artist has his own touch and nuances, but most of the art all touch base in one way. They are social commentaries against, or for, the system. It is a way to communicate ideas to the public that is not censored or regulated. The art always mirrors the problems and status of the time. Most recently, before the football world cup, there were many artists whose art reflected their feelings towards the competition.
While walking down the boulevards and avenues of urban areas like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, you may be surprised at the sheer abundance of street art or ‘graffiti’. Unlike the rest of the world, where governments consider street art to be nothing more than petty vandalism, Brazilians treasure the art. It isn’t just mere toleration; it is acceptance and enjoyment of such pieces. In fact in 2007, Rio de Janeiro decriminalized the defacing of urban buildings and monuments as long as the owners of such buildings do not press charges.
Owing to this fostering nature towards street artists, Brazil is considered on the forefront of the street art scene with many famous, or infamous depending on your stance, street artists.
Os Gémeos are twin brothers from São Paulo. Using their home city as a canvas they spray painted many large murals. The works were so great they started to gain respect in the underground urban art scene. This then blossomed to the international art scene attention as well, and though still true to their roots, they have opened some gallery exhibits.
Paulo ito is also an artist hailing from São Paulo. His street art is famous across the world. When asked why he creates street art, he simply said “I started drawing when I was 3 years old and never stopped.”
Another São Paulo born and raised artist is L7m. At the young age of 13 he had his first contact with spray that together with other painting techniques such as China ink, latex, pastel and acrylic allowed him to develop a unique creative process, characterized by the simple use of colors and geometry while approaching themes such as human sorrow, the beauty of life, the city’s disarray, the slums and surroundings.
If you want to experience the street art for yourself, the number one destination you should go to is São Paulo. It has the largest recognition of street art of any other city. The entire city is beautiful with unexpected murals around every corner. Of course during your travels to any urban area in Brazil you will find something worth pondering, but nothing can beat the abundance of art found in São Paulo.