It was a beautiful summer Sunday in Melbourne and my idea of a good time was to take the tram to Victoria Market. Eat some bratwurst and have a wander around looking at market: everything from meat and vegetables to crystal balls can be found at Victoria Market. And then walk up the street to see Poesia Urbana, an exhibition of works by ten street artists from São Paulo, at Famous When Dead Gallery.
The São Paulo artists exhibiting were: Alto Contraste, Bete Nóbrega, Celso Gitahy, Cena7, Ceson, Daniel Melim, Emol, Highraff, Ozi and Sprays Poéticos. It would be foolish of me to try and sum up São Paulo’s famous street art scene from a single exhibition. Remarkably there is frequent contact and exchange between Melbourne and São Paulo street-artists so I am becoming more familiar with some São Paulo street-artists. I had seen Celso Gitahy’s work before this year at the “Spray The Word” exhibition at The Library Artspace in August and at Famous When Dead Gallery in April. Bete Nóbrega had also exhibited work in Spray the Word. Her sweet folk style stencils of horses and birds with text were instantly recognizable.
Celso Gitahy, Emol and Cena7 were meant to be in attendance for live spraying and artist talks. But as it was only Celso Gitahy was there spraying away with his dredlocked manager on a table out the front of the gallery. I was interested in watching Celso spray but I was about the only one there. Celso uses stencils with plastic netting that held isolated islands of the stencil in place and he uses different bright colors on parts of the same stencil.
JD Mittmann, the director of Famous When Dead, said that he’d last seen Emol and Cena7 having a good time at Blender Studios and maybe they were still there partying. Hanging out in Blender Studios is an essential experience for every visiting international street artist (and more fun than a quiet Sunday at Famous When Dead, so I don’t blame them for not turning up). I must write more about Blender Studios as it is a dynamic place with both street-artist and contemporary artists working there.
Emol and Cena7 had received a grant from the Brazilian Ministry of Culture to come to Melbourne for the exhibition. Celso Gitahy and his manager had paid their own way (was this the reason why he was busy spraying more work?).
Celso Gitahy explained his art to me. His images are concerned with the duality of the spiritual/natural with the material/artificial. His images were evolving from humans with car heads to giraffes with electronic heads.
A couple of the São Paulo artists work showed an interest in fashion. OZI had made a pig shaped work, “Fashion Pig – Luis Vitao”, with a Louis Vuitton pattern. Alto Contraste had used paper-sewing patterns for supports for the “Fashion Freak” series. And Celso Gitahy’s “Solidao” features a stylish jacket emblazoned with bright images.
Poesia Urbana only occupied the front gallery-space of Famous When Dead, the back space was filled with a selection of work from the stock room. It was meant to be the last day that Famous When Dead Gallery would be open for the year but JD said he was going to keep it open for a few more days.