A touch of vandalism (sorry, graffiti) this week in the form of an art book we bought in London back in 2006. It was a present for sister Wapojif. We trust she still has the copy! An art book is for life, not just Christmas.
Released in late 2005, it’s a compendium of all the artistic flourishes you can find in and around vibrant Brasil. Let us graffiti (go and) take a look.
Brasil is an incredible place, with a population of 209.3 million (2017 figure) it’s teeming with activity.
There’s a passion for culture, life, football, and Formula One. But as with many nations there’s also a stark contrast between the wealthy regions and the poorest.
Many of the richest in cities sit directly alongside the favelas where, unfortunately, there’s often extreme poverty. But there’s also an incredible array of artistic flourishes. Art in its various forms.
Now, we got a bit confused by the difference between graffiti, murals, and street art.
We found a handy written and visual explanation on New Zealand artist Paul Walsh’s website.
On ‘Mural’ vs. ‘Graffiti’ vs. ‘Street Art’: my definitions Mr. Walsh offers his definitions on the subtle differences at play.
It’s a long explanation you can check out, but the visual representation above by an artist called Pichiavo explains it pretty well.
Basically, a mural will dominate a big old wall type thing. Like this one ourselves and Resa of Graffiti Lux Art covered: Blue Tit & Arnie in Blue. One of the coolest Manchester/Toronto collaborations that has ever occurred!
And whilst some of the Brasilian graffiti is just as dramatic, the ones that stuck with us are the minor flourishes.
A lot of them are dashes of blue added in unique locations, often where barely anyone will see them. Just a momentary flash in a person’s life to spark off their imagination.
That’s a piece by Zezao, who has a distinctive style but a humble approach. He dismisses the idea he’s the Brasilian Picasso.
Much of the graffiti adorns locations clearly steeped in poverty. And suddenly amongst such inequality, you have this rich and empowering sense of cultural identity.
It again reminds us of that quote from Simone de Beauvoir: “Culture has the highest of values.”
Graffiti Brasil is – as you’d expect – crammed full of such striking imagery. You discover styles such as pichação common in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
This is “tagging” completed in often crytpic fashion across walls and abandoned buildings. Tagging is where you add your artistic signature, essentially.
As pichação is seen as a crime, the Brasilian government and wider population treat it with contempt. So there’s a daredevil element to performing a tag.
There are also lots of pieces from the twin brother duo of OSGEMEOS (Otavio and Gustavo Pandolf). Although their work isn’t strictly in Brasil, as you can see with the dramatic mural below in Vancouver.
Born in 1974, they took up graffiti towards the end of the 1980s. They now have international recognition and a million followers on their Instagram account.
The brothers were enormously influential in defining the street art style in Brasil. Much of their work features characters with yellow skin, as if riffing off their country’s flag.
Graffiti Brasil’s compiler, Tristan Manco, clearly went to great lengths to document all this work.
He relied on American Caleb Neelon to document much of it, his trips between 1997 and 2005 helped lay down the groundwork.
Meanwhile, Ignacio Aronovich and Louise Chin are from Sao Paulo and helped to pinpoint key pieces around the city for the book.
It’s revelatory for anyone even with a passing interest in the world of art. The level of talent and commitment, the social commentary, the extent of the imagination on display – staggering.
Manco is an author and art director for a business in Bath of England. There, he’s created some excellent work – such as the below.
Not that we’re biased or anything, but it’s kind of accurate given the current state of affairs England is in.
Announcing @Brexit__Sucks my new T-shirt venture featuring artwork by style-master Graham Paris Dews. Pleased to get this off my chest on to the chests of others. Wear your T-shirt with pride! Check the tees here: https://t.co/1CsFja8BAl #brexit #brexitsucks #tshirt pic.twitter.com/UR8Cu9Cjuy
— Tristan Manco (@TristanManco) March 7, 2018
Manco also lectures about his work on occasions, but his day job primarily appears to be running his design agency.
His most recent published work is Are We There Yet? which was in 2016. But he’s produced others such as this history of stencil graffiti. You can have a scan through it to the sound of Mozart.
As for Graffiti Brasil, it’s still in print and we were able to find copies on Amazon and Waterstones for £10. Well worth it if you want some colour in your life.