South America > São Paulo I

Hello one and all!

We're currently travelling in South America and enjoying it to the fullest!
During our trip we'll try to update this blog as often as possible. Now we won't be sitting behind the computer everyday but check in once or twice a week and we'll do our best to have something to show you.

The content of the blog will of course focus on our painting adventures but also on our general experiences during our trip. It will mainly be my partner in crime and life that will be doing the blogging so without wasting any more time here's her first blog from the trip!


~ Lints

São Paulo.

Impressions on the city

The first stop on our journey is the enormous city of Sao Paulo, where we are staying with the local artist Askim and his lovely girlfriend. We have heard from friends that Sao Paulo is not a very welcoming place. And I see why one can get this impression. The poverty is constantly in your face, with loads of homeless people everywhere. The city is downright filthy in places, the traffic is heavy and somewhat aggressive and the air is fairly polluted.

But once you scratch the gritty surface, you find that Sao Paulo is a vibrant place, with a heap of nooks and crannies to explore. It definitely helps to have locals showing you the ins and outs of the city as the language barrier is quite steep and not all areas are equally tourist friendly. It is also difficult to not get smitten by the happy and emotional atmosphere during carnaval, when all the locals go dancing in the streets.
It is an overwhelming environment full of juxtapositions and I think it would probably take some time for foreigners like us to feel completely settled here. But it offers many adventures and I doubt that one would ever run out of things to see, do and paint.

Painting in São Paulo

“Nice weather!!!! Fuck up the city, let’s do graffiti!!!!”

The quote was from a random guy through his car window while we were obviously on our way painting.
It pretty much sums up the general attitude towards graffiti here.
Today was the third day of painting, but it wasn’t until today that I really got how much the locals generally appreciate graffiti.

The first day we painted inside a huge abandoned old brewery. The building in itself was simply amazing. The light fell softly through windows and holes in the roof and walls. Due to the almost daily monsoon showers the sound of water dripping from the roof was always present, and from the puddles algae grew in beautiful patterns. There were even small ferns and trees in some rooms. When walking around old decaying places, it almost always feels like you enter a bubble where time flows differently than in the rest of the world, but this place was almost surreal. Simply breathtaking. And a treasure chest of enormous walls to paint!
To get inside the complex we had to jump a wall in a public recycling area. We asked the woman working there if we could do so, and she was perfectly ok with it! I cannot imagine this would ever be the case back home.

Yesterday, we painted at the side of a really busy road. Even though we were there for probably the better of an hour nobody stopped us or called the cops on us. We came back to this spot again today and the guys did another two pieces – again without any bother from anyone. Who knew it could be so relaxing to sit on a fairly steep slope next to a 4 laned road in the sun and watch people paint! 

Afterwards we went to the area Liberdade, a pretty rough neighborhood which is heavily covered with graffiti. We got permission to paint the front of a small shop. The guys painted two big characters. 

As the work progressed more and more people came by and all the locals were positive towards it. We had already borrowed a ladder from a bar nearby, but an older shop owner from the area came by with an even bigger ladder just in case they wanted to go even higher on the building!! While painting two people - one young guy but the other one quite old – asked if we would come and paint their wall!!!
Loads of patrolling police cars drove by, but none stopped and asked to see permission – in one case the officers even liked it and gave us thumbs up and big smiles!!!
We have read about this (and hoped for it to be true), but it was super cool to actually experience it. Back home people cherish blank grey walls. Not here.

That being said, the tolerance is not unlimited. Pixaçau is the most prominent form of graffiti here. The acrobatics and guts needed involved in it is incredible, and the visual style so different from European tagging! Most times they put their life on the line. Partly due to the dizzying heights where they prefer to write. But also due to the fact that the seemingly positive attitude towards graffiti stop when it comes to Pixaçau. The public does not like it and the police will strike down hard if they catch you.

But for some reason most locals distinguish between pixaçau and even a simple letter based piece if it is well made. This is probably the biggest difference from back home, where it is mostly only tolerated if it is in a designated graffiti area. And even then it is still a bit of an eyesore to most people - particularly to older generations.