Street Art in Rio: An Evolution of Urban Culture

Nellie Huang July 2, 2014 2

Art is everywhere on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from the gritty favelas to glitzy neighbourhoods and government buildings to residential apartments. But street art here is no amateur work — it is bold, artistic, and expressive, and anything but graffiti. Paintings of electronic robots are found on door shutters and gates, while drawings of cigar-adorning Afro-Brazilian men splash across colonial buildings.

Just like anywhere in the world, Rio’s street art is a form of expression and often has an underlying message of political and societal context. While not all street art is easily comprehensible, it almost always makes you stop and think.

Street art blends perfectly into the urban landscape of Rio

Street art blends perfectly into the urban landscape of Rio.

Freedom of Expression

Rio’s urban artists didn’t always have this much freedom of expression. Street art only began to be taken seriously when the Brazilian government legalized street art in March 2009. Only then did Rio’s artists take to the streets to sculpt the urban landscape. Their art has now blended immaculately into the architecture of the city, forming an important part of the culture in Rio.

While exploring Rio de Janeiro in search of street art, I found Lapa to be one of the most interesting areas in the city, with gorgeous wall paintings and mosaic artwork. It may be a little gritty and scruffy, but there’s an undercurrent of bohemian and artistic vibes that epitomizes the character of Rio. Here are some of my favorite street art in Lapa – I hope they give you a glimpse into the urban landscape of Rio:

Funky youth paintings in Lapa.

Funky youth paintings in Lapa.

Graffiti of a man holding a boom box.

Music plays an important role in their lives.

Mural art depicting characters dancing for the world cup 2014

Rio prepares for the World Cup.

Please press play – childhood stories

Please press play – childhood stories.

Say what?

Say what?

Leia seu corpo – Read your body.

Leia seu corpo – Read your body.

Societal messages on the wall

Societal messages on the wall.

wall filled with different forms and styles of graffiti.

Robotics meet abstract art.

A wall painting in the favela of Santa Marta

A wall painting in the favela of Santa Marta.

“The wealthy ones want peace to keep being rich, we want peace to keep surviving.”

“The wealthy ones want peace to keep being rich, we want peace to keep surviving.”

street scene filled with graffiti.

The streets of Lapa may be scruffy but there’s so much character to be found.


Getting There

Looking to make a Brazil top five for yourself? G Adventures runs a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater for different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you Brazil in a way you’ve never seen it — check out our small group trips here.

2 Comments »

  1. SprayArtist July 17, 2014 at 9:08 pm - Reply

    Really really impresssive. Are those made by the same artist?

  2. Sacha Mlynek July 18, 2014 at 11:28 am - Reply

    All different kinds, SprayArtist.

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