Brazil is widely recognized right now as the world’s epicenter of great graffiti. Where most of the world has a wildly fluctuating love/hate relationship with graffiti, in Brazil it is much more accepted and acknowledged as art. This means that instead of having to do their art quickly and surreptitiously, Brazilian artists can devote some real time for their work and more fully explore the medium.
While CMG was in Sao Paulo holding the Latin American Meeting, the 1st International Biennial of Graffiti Fine Art was taking place the MuBE, the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture. Besides acknowledging Graffiti as fine art the show also explored the questions of “What is graffiti?” and “Does graffiti retain its transgressive essence if brought into a gallery or museum?” The Biennial featured the work of 66 of the most talented and influential artists in Brazil and the world.
Held inside the gallery space as well as in the outdoor gardens of the MuBE which was designed by Iconic Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha, the Biennial showcased large scale panels, murals, 3-D installations and other visual exploration representing a huge scope of trends in global urban art. Artists were invited representing the US, UK, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Chile, Japan, South Africa, Denmark and the Czech Republic.
The beginning of this slide show focuses on work from this exhibit showing work both outside and inside. Most interestingly the outside work has given the artists the ability to explore three dimensional works that borders on sculpture.
Following the museum show are photographs of work taken around Sao Paulo most notably from the district called La Magdalagna. Some are simple wall paintings that stand alone while the most incredible are back alleys that have been transformed to virtual outdoor museums. These places are characterized by overlapping work of diverse styles and colors showcasing the artistry of numerous people in one location. These neighborhood galleries have become world famous as you can see by the non Brazilian “museum visitors” in some of the photos. Truly amazing is the creativity shown not just in the visual forms and pictures but by how cleverly they make use of their locations. One flower pot in particular is too cool for words.
Lastly you will find a few grainy shots taken from the taxi to the airport that represent an entirely different form of graffiti unique to Sao Paulo. This movement, called Pixacao is a real street movement much closer to what we know as tagging than to the artistry of other Brazilian graffiti. It is found mostly in the really sketchy urban depths of Sao Paolo. The drawings represent a unique alphabet known only by the participants. The writings declare statements of self acclaim, messages to others and staking of claims to parts of town, although this is not really the sort of gang tagging we see in the urban core of the US. Even more interesting is that these works show off the gymnastics and daring involved doing the painting. Often the work is done hanging out of windows, stacked on shoulders 3 and 4 persons high, as well as hanging from ropes. The works are often really dramatic examples of dare devil feats. This showing off the danger is as important as the work itself. Numerous people die every year in the pursuit of this graffiti.
No matter how you feel about graffiti, this work certainly takes the conversation well beyond the “is it simply vandalism or not” conversation. Clearly the work you see here is as accomplished and artistic as the best of anything you will find in galleries and museums by traditional artists. In fact you can see from these pictures why the work has evolved into being made for and offered by galleries to collectors. And the “pure artist” debate has arisen as to whether the work is only valid when done in the streets. Spend some time being amazed by this work and decide for yourself – if you can.
Just another example of something Found.
This week’s content contributed by: James Martin, President, CMG