Unless your head’s been buried in the sand on a Brazilian beach, you’ll know World Cup 2014 is just around the corner. Love it or hate it, for the next four weeks it’ll be hard to turn on a TV, pick up a paper, or surf the net without coming across something soccer related.
The opening game kicks off this weekend. Host nation, Brazil, have a rich footballing history with their national side renowned for their flair and creativity. In fact, the country as a whole is one of the most vibrant, passionate, and creative on Earth.
If you look at Brazil’s heritage it’s easy to see why. It’s a melting pot of cultures, with the majority of its inhabitants being descendants of European immigrants, African slaves and the original, indigenous population.
It’s a mix which has made today’s Brazil a flamboyant, expressive, and extremely creative place. Amongst other things, it’s given birth to new styles of music and martial arts, which got us wondering: what else is happening creatively (beside amazing football) in this part of the world?
So we went on a hunt. And what we found was a place called Batman Alley (or Beco do Batman). A winding backstreet in the city of Sao Paulo, where the Peles and Ronaldos of street art scene go to play.
Every inch is covered in colourful graffiti, much of it the work of artists from the city’s urban intervention schemes. However, it also attracts artist from around the globe. It’s even listed on trip advisor as an unlikely but popular (four and a half stars) tourist destination.
With a shifting face of layers and layers of constantly changing paint, Batman Alley is an ever-evolving wonder. It’s also another wonderful example of the Brazilian skill and artistry which the world is accustomed to seeing on the pitch. So lace up your boots and take a walk with Team Solo down Batman Alley - the Brazilian graffiti artist’s field of play.
Meet the star players of Brazil’s graffiti scene.
One of the pioneers of Brazil’s graffiti scene is a guy named Speto, who has been writing now for over 27 years. He was born in Sao Paulo and first picked up a spray can in 1985. Since then he’s developed a distinctive style all of his own, and is known for his simple and playful illustrations.
Also worth checking out are Os Gemeos (which literally means, the twins). They’re two brothers from the north of Sao Paulo who are the Brazilian equivalent of Banksy. And just like the infamous UK artist, they’ve become household names, with work displayed in the Tate Modern, and as far afield Japan, Greece, Spain, Italy Cuba and Switzerland.
Although he now lives in France, Binho is another Brazilian street artists born in the northern suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. He started painting at the age of thirteen before becoming a fashion designer. However, disillusioned with the division between Brazil’s ruling-elite and its ordinary people, he returned to his roots as an artist.
Another well-respected artist goes by the name of Roma (amor backwards), who is known for his political pieces which he uses to 'communicate to' and 'mobilise' Brazil’s population. He’s been getting a lot of hype recently on the net due to many controversial pieces with a World Cup theme, and much of his work is censored or painted over as soon as it goes up.
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