We just wanted to give a little shout out to the graffiti installation in Europe. It’s important to support others who are trying to do the same thing. This summer WHAF was fortunate to produce two street art installations.

Jana Joana and Vitché, “Frankfurt am Main,” 2013. Graffiti. Exhibition view, “Street-Art Brazil,” 2013. Photo: Norbert Miguletz. © Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2013.

Street-Art Brazil
5 September–27 October 2013

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
Römerberg, D-60311 Frankfurt
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–7pm,
Wednesday–Thursday 10am–10pm

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In conjunction with Brazil’s appearance as guest of honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2013, the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt is presenting the multifaceted world of Brazilian graffiti art for the first time ever in Germany. The major cities of Brazil are home to one of the world’s most vital and fascinating graffiti scenes. In terms of both content and aesthetic quality, this colourful, dynamic and unique movement differs significantly from the American and European street-art scenes. Brazilian street art stands apart from the globalized graffiti culture by virtue not only of the specific political and social climate in a country rocked by profound upheavals, but also because of the incredible abundance of styles and techniques it encompasses. Eleven artists and artist groups from São Paulo and other Brazilian cities have been invited to exhibit their paintings in urban settings throughout Frankfurt, beginning with the Schirn building, and thus to alter the everyday image of the city. Their works include figurative and abstract, light-hearted and socially critical paintings ranging from oversized murals to unpretentious, ephemeral signs and symbols. They will appear, among other places, on bank towers, bridge abutments on the banks of the Main, the floor of the “Hauptwache,” “St. Matthäus” Church and the former city police presidium. Yet another highlight is a painted subway train. Known as a “whole train,” this form of graffiti is regarded as the supreme discipline among graffiti artists. A mobile app developed specifically for the exhibition featuring a wealth of background information and artists’ videos is available to help visitors navigate as they stroll through downtown Frankfurt.

The metropolis of São Paulo is a leading centre of Brazilian street art, rivalled only by Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba. Since the mid-1980s, the local scene in that city has evolved into one of the most vital and artistically diverse street-art cultures in the world. It is characterized by highly distinctive and extremely varied interventions in urban space—and it is omnipresent in São Paulo. After twenty years of military dictatorship, the strong desire to promote the free expression of public opinion led to the growth of a politically motivated counter-culture. In contrast to the global scene, graffiti is not only tolerated in the cities of Brazil, it has been accepted to a certain extent as part of the visual culture. Brazilians distinguish between pixação, the Brazilian form of tagging, and graffiti, as represented by large-scale figurative and abstract murals of the type painted by the eleven artists invited to Frankfurt by the Schirn. Chronologically speaking, Street-Art Brazil begins with representatives of the first generation of grafiteiros (Vitché, Speto and Tinho). Born in the late 1960s and early 1970s, they began invading the streets with their paintings after the fall of the military dictatorship, thus giving voice to the desire to promote the free expression of public opinion after years of silence during and after the oppressive rule of the military regime. Facing a shortage of artistic resources, they opted, as they still do today, for wall paint and rollers in addition to relatively expensive spray cans. The younger protagonists in the scene also respond to the current social, economic and environmental problems in their city and are inspired by elements of indigenous culture as well. Common to all is a distinctive position achieved through a singular visual language. Artists define themselves through public exposure—by presenting their works to public view and disseminating them as widely as possible. Recognition of their artistic signatures—their brand—is crucial to their success.

Participating artists: Herbert Baglione, Gais, Rimon Guimarães, Jana Joana & Vitché, Nunca, Onesto, Alexandre Orion, Speto, Fefe Talavera and Tinho, Zezão

App: In addition to the exhibition catalog, the Schirn has developed a mobile app designed to help visitors navigate through the city. The mobile app is already available free of charge for iOS and will be available for Android within the next days. The app can be downloaded in standard stores.

Director: Max Hollein; Curator: Carolin Köchling

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