I came across a group of São Paulo artists who are doing their part to improve their surroundings in a very creative way. Graffiti for some is seen as a nuisance and a destructive form of vandalism, while for others it is an art form as any other. What the former think is most likely directed towards amateurs and gang members, however what the latter think, are those who have seen the art at its best. By the way, São Paulo is one of the more famous centers in the world for graffiti works. Feel free to “Google” the name Zezão to find more examples of the kind of art being done in Brazil’s largest city.
Graffiti is an Italian word, in its plural. Graffito is its singular in the diminuitive form, however it is almost never used. The original word is Graffio, meaning a scratch or scribble. It comes from ancient Rome where townspeople would gather to converse and sell their goods. Since the internet was far in the future, graffito became the forum of the time, where people would write messages on the walls. Below are some examples of actual messages found on the walls of Pompei.
- Successus was here.
- Gaius Julius Primigenius was here. Why are you late?
- Lovers, like bees, lead a honey-sweet life.
- I don’t want to sell my husband.
- Burglar, watch out!
- Someone at whose table I do not dine, Lucius Istacidius, is a barbarian to me.
- The fruit sellers ask you to elect Marcus Holconius Priscus as aedile.
- I am amazed, o wall, that you have not collapsed and fallen, since you must bear the tedious stupidities of so many scrawlers.
The 6emeia project is the result of the creation and sole initiative of two well-known artists of the neighborhood; Leonardo Delafuente (D lafuen T), resident of Bom Retiro, and Anderson Augusto (SÃO), resident of Barra Funda.
Part of the project comes from the need for change and the improvement of the neighborhood and of the city itself. The transients and residents that use the roads and trajectories find an esthetic improvement in their environment, through the use of color and alterations. By means of a series of new ideas, these very same people are stimulated to place in practice the fact that self-improvement has a mutual benefit.
For a long time both Bom Retiro and Barra Funda have been seen as future model neighborhoods in terms of restructuring and revitalization. They are rebuilding themselves to the height of tradition and the name for which they carry. Artistic tradition, being the birthplace of diverse moviments and changes.
And with the painted manholes and sewer drains, we are proposing a new type of communication between art/city and art/people. We show them that even the most forgotten and indifferent object, looked at with care, can bring forth art. The drains that have already been painted by 6emeia are like colored drops in an imense ash-colored bucket.
Their work can be found here, although some examples are included above.
Os Gêmeos (The Twins) are graffiti artist identical twin brothers (born in 1974) from São Paulo, Brazil, whose real names are Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo. They started painting graffiti in 1987 and gradually became a main influence in the local scene, helping to define Brazil’s own style. Their work often features yellow-skinned characters, but is otherwise diverse and ranges from tags to complicated murals. Subjects range from family portraits to commentary on São Paulo’s social and political circumstances, as well as Brazilian folklore. Their graffiti style was influenced by both traditional hip hop style and the Brazilian pixação movement (indigenous graffiti). Their urban art has taken them all over the world, including to the US and to Europe. Below is a wall painting they did in the Netherlands.
For more on Brazilian (graffiti) artists, here’s an artist links page.