By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On May 22nd, Rio artist Diana “Di” Couto’s first solo exhibition entitled, “Outro Olhar” (“Another Look”), will open at Ipanema’s Q-Guai Gallery. Known for her street art characterized by large portraits of women’s faces often with boldly colored patterned hair, Couto, for the exhibition’s pieces, put aside her aerosol cans and replaced them with paints, pencils, yarns, dyed papers, tree branches and other elements to create six mixed media pieces.
Those who might not be immediately familiar with Couto’s name should recognize her street art if they have been in and around Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone) during the last several years.
Active in the city’s street art scene for over six years, her works have appeared in the neighborhoods of Ipanema, Arpoador and Vidigal, among others and Couto created pieces internationally including in Miami. Additionally she participated in Art Rua 2013, Rio’s urban/street art festival.
“I love graffiti, I respect the role it has in the world and I feel honored to be a part of this movement,” Couto told The Rio Times, adding “but now I feel that I need to show my other work, work that only a few people know. I need to show another technique, another identity with other meanings.”
Couto says art was always a part of her life but that it wasn’t until she studied design in college that the art world “really opened up” to her. It was there that she discovered her love of graffiti, explored the history of art and developed and strengthened additional techniques.
For the pieces of the exhibition she revisited parts of her past and her childhood in the city. Explaining the inclusion of yarn in the pieces, Couto said, “My grandmother and great grandmother knitted jackets for my brothers and I when we were little. I have clear memories of tangled knitting yarn in a basket. When I was studying elements to bring to this exhibition, I thought I’d incorporate the seams of knitting, the beautiful technique of sewing.”
“I feel like I connected to myself to produce the pieces,” Couto continued. “In addition to rescuing memories with the wool yarn, I also incorporated branches, taken from the trees where I grew up. It was a rescue of memories.”
In the exhibition pieces, the yarn and branches are incorporated into Couto’s trademark portraits of women. “I am a woman,” Couto explained when asked why woman were the main focal point of her pieces, “try to put pieces of myself in these women, feelings that I have.”
“I admire women and I strongly believe in the difference that women can make in society,” Couto added. “Women have a maternal force, which I believe is the greatest force that a being can possess. They were and are still very stigmatized. We still have a lot to overcome. So, I depict women in my work. They are inspiring simply because they are women.”
When asked about being a women in the mostly male dominated urban art scene, Couto said; “Being a woman in street art is never easy, especially in Rio. I think the main difficulty is the street itself. When you’re doing street art you’re exposed, in the open, for a long time. Graffiti is still criminalized (even with the new laws). You have to have courage to face the streets. There, anything can happen.”
“Women are gradually entering the scene with quality work,” Couto continued adding, “but it’s harder to be accepted and treated equally, because the medium has masculine characteristics due to it’s being dominated by a majority of men. I feel that this is slowly changing.”
The works of “Outro Olhar” will be on display for twenty days in the Q-Guai Gallery following the opening day on May 22nd.
What: “Outro olhar” (“Another Look”): Di Couto Solo Exhibition
When: May 22nd – June 10th, Monday through Friday 10AM-8PM, Saturday 11AM to 7PM.
Where:Gallery Q-Guai, Rua Henrique Dumont 65A, Ipanema.
Entrance: See the Q-Guai site for more information.