By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Even though the historic Rio 2016 Olympic Games have concluded with 65 new Olympic and nineteen new world records made, yet another record was claimed in Rio earlier this week. The Guinness World Records officially recognized the Olympic Boulevard mural of Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra, titled Etnias (Ethnicities), as the world’s largest spray paint mural by a team.
Covering the side of an abandoned warehouse on Olympic Boulevard in Rio’s revitalized Port Zone, the massive Etnias mural, also sometimes referred to as “Todos somos um” (We Are All One), was one of the crowd favorites among the 1.2 million travellers who visited the area during the Olympics.
The mural was unveiled on July 30th a few days before the start of the Games, but it wasn’t until this week that it entered the Guinness record books.
In a released statement this week announcing the new record, Guinness World Records said, “Kobra’s work required an uncanny combination of ability and artistry,” and will be remembered “as one of the most impressive pieces of his collection.”
At 51 feet tall and 560 feet wide, Etnias measures approximately thirty thousand square feet, dwarfing the now former record-holder, a 2009 mural by Mexican artist Ernesto Rocha, located in Mazatlan, Mexico, which measured eighteen thousand square feet.
Using his signature style of quilted design patterns composing brightly colored figures, Kobra’s work depicts the aged faces of five indigenous tribes from different continents: the Huli tribe from New Guinea, the Mursi from Ethiopia, the Kayin from Thailand, the Supi from Europe, and the Tapajos from the Americas. Kobra chose five tribes based on the five rings in the Olympic symbol.
“We’re living through a very confusing time with a lot of conflict. I wanted to show that everyone is united, we are all connected,” Kobra said to Rio 2016.
To create the work, the 40-year-old São Paulo street artist and his team of four used one hundred gallons of white paint, four hundred gallons of colored paint, and approximately three thousand cans of spray paint. To reach the enormous heights of the warehouse wall, they also employed seven hydraulic lifts.
“I’m motivated by challenges,” said Kobra. “This building was totally abandoned. My team had to paint it all white and even recover some parts of it. This was a collaboration.”
Working a minimum of twelve hours a day, Kobra and his team finished the work, which was commissioned by the International Olympic Committee, in 45 days.
“It’s something that has to be seen to be believed,” said British tourist Chris Ward while visiting the site. “Truly inspiring.”
The record-breaking mural is located on Olympic Boulevard, which was one of the most visited sites during the 2016 Rio Olympics. During the Games, the three-kilometer long waterfront stretch located in Rio’s Port Zone offered live Olympic coverage on big screens, three stages with live music, street art performances, nightly firework displays, food trucks and activities for kids.
Until the start of the 2016 Rio Paralympics, many of the Olympic Boulevard activities have closed. But, along with the Etnias mural, tourists visiting the area can still visit Casa Brazil, the largest of the Olympic Houses, which will continue to open during the period between the Olympics and the Paralympics.
Until September 6th, Casa Brazil will open from 2PM to 8PM, and on September 7th, the beginning of the Paralympics, Casa Brazil will extend hours from 10AM to 8PM.