Brazil: Graffiti

This is post #3 in my Brazil Travel series. If you haven’t kept up from the start, you can check that out here.

Graffiti has a big role to play in MURDERED. In fact, taking a picture of a graffiti mural is the whole reason your tourist character leaves a public street and becomes forever embroiled in a murder mystery. While the mural I describe in the book exists solely in my mind, the real street art of Rio inspired my imagination:

“In the preview on the LCD screen, you notice there’s the beginning of a graffiti mural sticking out from the adjoining alley. You peek around the corner to see the full image. It’s an angel, larger than life and in stunning detail. His hair is long and his face is placid, much like a beardless Christ.  Yet this is a dark angel; his wings, not feathered, are formed from two AK-47 machine guns divided in broad symmetry. Two snakes wrap around his legs, originating from behind his ankles and enveloping his lower half like the caduceus, their heads biting his wrists and spreading his arms. A nuclear mushroom cloud which serves as his halo bursts forth from behind his flowing mane. In stylized calligraphy, the caption above reads, ‘Vou testemunhar.’

It’s called anything from vandalism to street art, but no matter what you call it, tagging can be a powerful method of expression in large cities, specifically by its poorer citizens. While I don’t think this justifies someone putting their initials or callsign wherever they can, I do think that some graffiti transcends into art. Here are a few examples that stuck out to me during my travels. Unless otherwise noted, all pictures are from Rio de Janeiro.

Manaus
Manaus traffic circle. Child with the colors of the Brazilian flag.
Manaus
Manaus traffic circle. Left unfinished by choice or circumstance.
A simple Merry Christmas, or deeper meaning?
A simple Merry Christmas, or perhaps a deeper meaning?
Favela stack design painted on an actual favela stack in Rocinha. So meta.
Favela stack design painted on an actual favela stack in Rocinha. So meta.
Rocinha. Great use of colors and perspective.
Rocinha. Great use of colors and perspective.
Taken in Rocinha. A deeper meaning might be gleaned by those who read Portuguese.
Rocinha. A deeper meaning might be gleaned by those who read Portuguese.
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The juxtaposition of Brazilian pride and abject poverty really spoke to me.
In some favelas, there are so many alleyways that they decided to give them street names. This "heart labyrinth" is beautiful.
This “heart labyrinth” is beautiful. Note: In some favelas, there are so many alleyways that they decided to give them street names.
Brazilian mascot for the World Cup.
Brazilian mascot for the World Cup.
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Love the expressions, and the use of color.
Its always interesting to me where youll find graffiti. Like this dirt lot on the other side of a neighborhood.
It’s always interesting to me where you’ll find graffiti. Like this dirt lot on the other side of a neighborhood.
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Looks inviting, right?
Mural Part One
Mural Part One.
Mural Part Two
Mural Part Two.
Full sign was "Money is Violence" but I like "Bus Violence." It s rare to see murals in English.
Full sign was “Money is Violence” but I like “Bus Violence.” It’s rare to see murals in English.
St Sebastion the Martyr is a common image, here re-imagined as a beach bum. The pattern on his board shorts is also recurring theme in Brazil.
St Sebastion the Martyr is a common image, here re-imagined as a beach bum. The patterns on his board shorts are also recurring theme in Brazil.
Michaela says she has seen this "oil angel" several places in South America.
Michaela says she saw this “oil angel” several places in Rio.
Dracula and zombies. Nuff said.
Dracula and zombies. Nuff said.

Good one to end it on? Sure, good as any. The point is, it’s not like I asked a cab driver to take me around to all the best graffiti in the city. The stuff is just everywhere! These are all designs I just happened to see as I explored. In face, over half were taken from moving taxi windows. In my humble opinion, it adds character to the city. A certain depth and color, both literally and figuratively.

Click to continue: Brazil: Into the Favelas!


Thanks for reading! Where do you stand on graffiti? Eye-sore or art?

Feel free to comment below, and don’t forget to share and subscribe!

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