São Paulo - Brazil in 10 Street Art Works - Part 2
Here we are with part two of our 10 Brazilian street artists you should definitely check out when in São Paulo! Kobra, Speto, Zezão and Boleta can be considered to be pioneers of Brazilian street art, who all started in the graffiti scene. But more artists started to pop up thanks to the emergence of projects determined to transform and beautify the city. These newer artists started to determine new currents and bring new elements into the increasingly booming Brazilian street art scene during the past decades. Check them out!
Another paulisto to keep an eye on is Rafael Calazans, who is known by the peusdonym "Highraff". His first artistic experience was with the graffiti scene as well. Right after he graduated from university, he had the chance to display his work in galleries and museums. He has already painted in the streets of Paris and Barcelona and exhibited in several galleries and museums around the world. Highraff gets his inspiration from various sources, especially other graffiti, comics and animation. He describes his work best when he says: “Imagine all of these artistic styles together in a psychedelic rave party.”
He depicts wavy formations, often combined with two-dimensional geometric structures. It almost seems like the shapes are growing organically, like a tree. This is no coincidence. With his work Highraff wants to remind people about the importance of nature in big cities such as São Paulo. He combines these elements with vibrant contrasting colors in complex layers, to intensify the viewer’s experience of the urban context.
One of the most interesting female artists of São Paulo is Mag Magrela, who hails from the most famous hotspot for street art in the city called Vila Madalena. As an autodidact, Magrela was inspired by her dad and taught herself to draw and paint. Drawing has always been a big part of her world and her way to express herself. She finally started to paint in the streets of São Paulo with a group of friends in 2007. Besides painting murals, Magrela also works on canvas, sculptures and assemblages, even embroidery and tiles.
She wants to break with the stereotype of the female muralist painting hearts and flowers. Her style represents the Brazilian street art scene very well, using intuition and intense creativity. Her work revolves around themes that are very present in Brazilian culture: faith and the profane, everyday battles, resistance, and the feminine. Her soft characters are delicate and seem to be trapped, but are strong of character. They contrast with the hard and often dirty architecture of the city, offering the viewer a break from the mundane to enjoy her work and think about other things.
For Paulo Ito, his street art is a way of expressing his strong socio-cultural or political ideas about society and its structural problems. The first time he worked on the streets was in 1997, when he placed panels on the street together with his art course colleagues. But now he loves working alone on the street. He feels completely free without a crew, curator, art dealers or some kind of market logic. Since he started developing his work on the walls of the Brazilian metropolis in 2000, he has gained recognition with his critical style that engages passers-by to think.
Paulo draws his inspiration from things that disgust him in society, and he feels like painting these scenes on walls is his way to take revenge. His messages are intended for anyone who’s interested. But as he explains, not everyone has had the educational opportunities and cultural background necessary to really understand his work. He prefers to criticize “the stupid white man”. Nonetheless, those are often people just like him (and every single one of us), struggling with inner contradictions. This way, his murals can be seen even more as a kind of self-criticism than revenge. Needless to say, a sense of humor and self-reflection are a must to enjoy Ito’s work.
As you might have noticed, the work of many Brazilian street artists is very colourful. But Prozak takes it up another notch! His pieces immediately enliven the whole neighbourhood, like this one in Vila Madalena. He often starts with blue-coloured shapes and keeps adding different coloured forms on the side and on top of those. These colourful abstract shapes are placed in such a way that a figurative formation starts to appear. It might be a funny angry face or the back of a head, which fades and reappears again the longer you look at it.
It’s amazing how well his work mixes with that of other street artists, like in this piece with Jotapepax. These Brazilian street artists don’t shy from working together with other artists at the same mural. Together, they create powerful contrasts by juxtaposition and their styles even blend into each other. They create moments and spaces of meaningful connection in their artwork, through which they explore their own artistic boundaries and those of the urban space they invade and inhabit.
Daniel Medeiros is the man behind the famous signature Boleta (or boletabike). He is a self-taught artist and, just like many other street artists, Boleta started his artistic journey with the local aggressive and reckless pixação in the beginning of the '90s. It was only four years later that he really started painting murals. Through the years, he became known and respected for his unique, dynamic and fantastic colourful style. He now enjoys international recognition and has participated in expositions around the world. In 2011, he even went on an artistic expedition in the Amazon rainforest.
On a dark background, Boletabike makes a construction with subtle spiritual drawings, ancient signs and natural elements, such as birds and butterflies. He draws inspiration from the world of tattoos, psychedelic images from the '60s and '70s, religion and elements of nature. These influences blend with the symbolic little birds that regularly reoccur in his work. In his art, he wants to discuss topics such as human behaviour in general as well as his own personal experiences.
Do you want to discover the Brazilian street art scene or - why not - make a city trip to São Paulo? Be sure to visit Vila Madalena (certainly “beco do batman” and “beco do aprendiz”) the Cambuci neighbourhood, Pinheiros (Rua do Lavapés), Liberdade (Rua Galvão Bueno and Rua Glória), Avenida Cruzeiro do Sul and Avenida 23 Maio. But just keep your eyes open, as you will find many street art and graffiti scattered in the city wherever you go!