By Sarah Brown, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A picture paints a thousand words as the street artists in Rio de Janeiro know all too well. The World Cup has aroused controversy and mixed emotions, stimulating both budding and established street artists to channel these sentiments into powerful and revealing artworks.
Paulo Ito caused a worldwide stir with his mural in São Paulo that quickly became an internet sensation. His image of a hungry boy, crying in dismay at the football on his plate instead of food is powerful. Lack of hospitals and education are serious issues that have arguably been made worse by the sporting delirium thanks to gross overspending in preparation for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
“I don’t have anything against the World Cup, however I don’t agree with the manner in which FIFA operate,” Ito explains. “The street art shows the dissatisfaction with FIFA and questions what is prioritized in Brazil.”
Artists in Rio have been quick to produce their own equally sensational street arts, representing the torn feelings between despair and pride in the World Cup. Tiago Tosh, a street artist from Rio summarizes his thoughts on the subject. “It is very divided the opinions… I am against the system for bringing this… it is dirty and corrupt.” However, he adds, “I like football a lot… ever since I was a kid I wanted to be a footballer.”
This complicated mix of feelings can be seen in the World Cup street art that graces the walls and constructions around Rio. Jambeiro is a street artist recently pushed into the spotlight for his artworks. One of his images that can be found in Lapa depicts a Santa Teresa tram with the Brazilian football team inside, being pulled along by the Hulk. What this shows is the true football spirit – a country strongly patriotic and filled with faith that their team will lead them to victory.
Many street paintings capture the pro-World Cup that is especially strong now that the battle of winners and losers has begun. One such image is a Brazilian footballer disdainfully shooing away a defeated and lost ghost of the Maracanazo, the name for the game between Uruguay and Brazil in 1950 which led to a Uruguayan victory.
The battle between the nationalities is clearly depicted in this painting, as well as the confidence in Brazil´s victory in this year´s World Cup.
Still, many artists are frustrated and angry that the event of the year is being funded by the taxes of the population, people who place a higher value in education and health. One artist paints an evil looking tournament mascot kitted in business attire as he makes a deal with a businessman underneath the slogan of “Maracanã is ours”.
A member of the Fleshback Crew, a group in Rio de Janeiro that create street art around the city shares: “I, as all Brazilians, am indignant with the money spent. They will destroy the stadiums after the World Cup and all the money will be wasted.”
Street art, like any art, can be both political and commercial, and provides opportunities for those involved to present their work and develop a voice. The graffiti around Rio will continue to be a topic of hot discussion with clear statements of both pride and anger about the current World Cup.