By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Well known for their vibrant tones and colorful family of characters, the works of urban street artist, Toz, are currently on display in Rio’s Centro Municipal de Arte Hélio Oiticica. Entitled “Metamorfose” (Metamorphosis), the exhibition is free to the public and will be open from March 15th until May 11th.
“The title has to do with many things,” Toz exclusively told The Rio Times, explaining the name of the exhibition, “but the main thing is the transformation that occurs daily within ourselves and nature, the changes from day to night that cause different sensations in every way.”
The main piece of the exhibition, a 300 square meter installation, clearly depicts the overall theme of the show. In it, two of Toz’s characters: “Insônia” (“Insomnia”) and “Vendedor de alegria” (“Vendor of happiness”) are shown transforming during a passage of time. The two figures appear to be different from one another but are in fact two sides of the same figure at different moments in time.
Curated by Isabel Portella, the exhibition also features fourteen paintings and photographs by Fernando Young of people dressed as Toz’s famous characters. Models for the photos included rapper Marcelo D2, actor Bruno Gagliasso, and actress Giovanna Ewbank.
Born Tomaz Viana in Salvador, Bahia in 1976, Toz came to Rio in the 1980s. After graduating in Art and Design, he went on to become a graffiti artist in the late 1990s. “I started in ’98,” said Toz. “I wanted to do my drawings on a larger scale and test my freedom of expression.”
Toz is also a founding member of the highly acclaimed Rio graffiti team, Fleshbeck Crew. Consisting of members Toz, Marcio SWK – both of whose solo works are also currently on exhibition in Ipanema’s Homegrown Gallery – and BR, Pia’, Rod, and Krrank, the Fleshbeck Crew were pioneers of the graffiti movement in Rio.
“I created a group with my friends in ’97 and it changed my life,” said Toz. “I have deep love for all of the members. Like a family, they have positive influences in my art and in my personal life.”
Now established and breaking out beyond street murals, Toz has participated in several collective exhibitions including 2006’s “Mostra Santos de Arte sem Barreiras” (“Show Saints of Art Without Barriers) at Centro Cultural Patrícia Galvão in São Paulo, “O que é normal?” (What is normal?) in Brazil’s Federal District also in 2006, and 2009’s “Conversando Calado” (“Talking Draft”) at the Galeria Movimento in Rio.
His previous solo exhibitions include 2010’s “Toz em Família” (Toz Family) and 2008’s “Toz, Entre Nós” (“Toz Among Us”), both held at Rio’s Galeria. The 2007 exhibition “Nina e Shimu no País das Maravilhas” (“Nina and Shimu in Wonderland”) held at the Galeria Carminha Macedo in Minas Gerais focused on two of his now well known characters: Shimu, an amoeba; and Nina, a beautiful young girl often depicted with a mermaid’s tail.
Toz was inspired by the toys and action figures of his youth in the 1980s and throughout the years of his career he has successfully crafted a family of his own characters that colorfully convey alter egos, transformations, moods and the essence of being human. According to Toz, the best part of a career as an artist is “the ability to be yourself, to not change your way of thinking and being able to succeed at that.”
What: Toz Art Exhibition: “Metamorfose”
When: Exhibition runs through May 11, 2014. Mondays through Fridays open 11AM to 6PM. Open Saturdays 11AM to 5PM.
Where: Centro Municipal de Arte Hélio Oiticica, Rua Luís de Camões – Centro