Street artists are the engines for vision and experimentation. They are the nonconformists that remain curious and creative. They have the temerity to buck convention every chance they get. Nowhere is that more visible than within the city walls of São Paulo, Brazil.
Wedged between its tree-lined boulevards, with the glistening silver towers of opulence, and its shabby, shanty villages, lies the artful neighborhood of Vila Madalena. This area is best known for its outrageous street art. The meandering passageways of Vila Madalena have become a living museum, giving homage to the renegade artist.
At the epicenter of this hood lies Beco do Batman, better known as Batman Alley. Every inch of paintable surface of this winding alleyway is covered in street art. Not a trash bin, signpost, or step is spared from the artist’s spray can, even splattering to the cobblestones under foot.
The first installation was painted back in the 80’s. Two guesses what it was. You guessed it: the caped crusader himself, Batman. Since then street artists, alongside fine art students, take turns decorating the crude, stucco walls. The content includes, stunning black and white illustrations, three-dimensional abstractions, and psychedelic flights of fancy.
Within these narrow passageways we witness what artists do best — astound. Visitors are entranced. Tourists, beside São Paulo residents, walk amongst these phantasmagorical images in a state of wonder.
Being caught up in a whirl of marvel myself, I was reminded that these artists are our mentors. They emphasize the importance of never closing ourselves off to curiosity and experimentation. They demonstrate that breaking the rules can be liberating, exhilarating and even amusing.
As we enter 2017 can we think like a street artist? Can we be adventurous, daring, and when everyone else turns right, turn left? Most importantly, can we challenge ourselves to push our boundaries, for creativity is the essence of life.
Live in color,