The Worldwide Online Museum for Mural Art

Mural Art in São Paulo, Brazil and Valparaíso, Chile

The highlights at this year’s Stroke Artfair in Munich were the featured artists from South America. Besides doing live-paintings Jerry Batista, Enivo, Rodrigo Branco, Inti Castro, Charquipunk, La Robot de Madera and Paulina Quintana Jornet presented their multifaceted artworks and talked about the mural culture in their home countries.

Art Scene of São Paulo

São Paulo is worldwide known as a multicultural metropolis with very different social, religious and economic conditions. These are also reflected in the individual statements of its graffiti artists. A central theme in Jerry Batista, Envio and Rodrigo Branco artwork is life in the favelas of São Paulo. In the 1970s due to rural exodus many people moved to cities and ended up in a favela, because they couldn’t find a place to live. The poor population grew at a rapid pace. São Paulo started to evict the people and destroyed their homes.
While Jerry Batista is a graffiti artist of the first generation painting fantasy landscapes and spiritual themes with appellative statements Envio and Rodrigo Branco picked up the calligraphic effects of the pichaçãoes. Pichaçãoes are graffiti tags which are often used by gang members to mark their territory. They demand social responsibility or contain Brazilian poetry. In 2008 a group of approximately 40 pichadores attacked Brazil’s major exhibition for contemporary art „São Paulo Biennial“. Many reviled this form of graffiti others defended it as a form of popular art. The next year the pichadores became part of the art show. Also African culture and mixed media paintings influenced the iconographic language of the second generation of graffiti artists. Enivo teaches his graffiti skills to youths to create art for all and respect their communities. Also Rodrigo Branco is doing social graffiti projects with kids. He integrates photography in his work. One of his reoccurring motifs is the sad boy with a paper ship on his head. It is based on personal experience from the outlying area of town where he grew up. In his childhood he played at the water reservoir. The river that used to be an important source of fresh water and leisure activities is now heavily polluted and people are forced out of their homes.

Art Scene of Valparaíso

The increasing cultural capital Valparaíso is the Mecca for mural art in Chile. It is built on a chain of 42 hills with a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean. The traditional colorful houses at the steep hillsides that are formed like an amphitheater became an inspiring backdrop for the artists. While the muralists are painting they can see wall paintings of at least ten other artists. Chile has a long tradition of mural art that is rooted in the Mexican Muralismo and melted together with Graffiti into a new style that became part of the city.
Inti Castro focuses on the struggles of the native people in Chile to reach social justice and preserve their cultural heritage. His work reflects Valparaíso’s patchwork identity, where many European immigrants have settled down and influenced the country’s culture. Charquipunk’s works also touch upon ideas of identity and self-reflection. He uses the ancient hummingbird symbols, which are restricted to the Americas and appear in a lot of myths and legends. All over the town his cat graffiti portrays himself and you can find a lot of connections with nature in his recent work. La Robot de Madera often collaborates with other artists using mixed media and combining various styles and fantasy forms like a collage. His quick works like spray tags and characters in the labyrinth of streets in Valparaíso brings art in everyday life. La Robot de Madera means „wooden robot“ and shows the conflict of things that don’t exist but nevertheless are there. Paulina Quintana Jornet left Chile in her childhood because her family moved to Argentina and later to Germany. With her self-portraits she is searching for her cultural heritage as source for her identity and declares her love to South America.

South America particularly Brazil has a significant graffiti tradition. Its people have a different connection to colors as in Europe. They use stronger colors on the walls than people in Europe would normally use. Another point is that graffiti in South America is linked with freedom of expression. While in Europe graffiti is forbidden, graffiti writers in South America don’t have to be scared to be caught by the police. People just love the artwork and enjoy looking at it in their everyday life.