Brazil: Street art | Ready culture

In 2009, Brazil legalized street art – all the artist needs is the permission of the owner. Each artist has their own language, but street art in Rio seems to be particularly influenced by its seaside surroundings, as opposed to street art in São Paulo, which draws more inspiration from its urban landscape. Street art is called “graphite” (pronounced grah-fee-tchee) in Rio – what we call graffiti in terms of labeling and writing on buildings in the US is called “pichação” (pronounced pee-shah-sow). Some artists include elements of both in their work.

With a painful history of the slave trade and continuing oppression and inequality, the art in the area reflects its residents through a collective narrative. Each piece is the life told by the artist: what is their story? What have they experienced? What emotions do they feel?

When Rio hosted the Summer Olympics in 2016, the city added street murals throughout its recently revitalized Old Port area. Artists say that many times painting in disadvantaged areas can be more welcoming than doing it in a richer neighborhood. Residents may offer you food or drink to thank you for sharing your art with their community. This relationship has created a door for many artists to share their work on a smaller scale and realize the impact art has had on their community, which could eventually lead them to reach the rest of the world.

“Rio has a lot of street art projects going on, a lot of talented artists and a lot to say,” says Nina Gani. In 2014 she founded Rio Street Art Tours, the first company to take travelers on tour of Rio’s street art. If you want to visit the favelas (slums) in the area to see street art, we recommend using a service like this with someone familiar with the area. Otherwise, we recommend that you visit the works of one larger place in the city at a time, such as the Olympic port area, the Jardim Botánico (the botanical garden) or Santa Teresa, one of Rio’s oldest residential neighborhoods. Some examples of Rio street performers are Eduardo Kobra, Bruno Big, Wark Rocinha and Marcelo Jou.

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