By Nathan M. Walters, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what the tenets of the global street art movement really are. Without a doubt though, they are evolving and influencing different art disciplines; dance, theater, and cinema which have all responded to the urban movement in their own way, as has photography.
Henrique Madeira is a street artist in Rio, though instead of spray cans, Madeira works with light. A photographer, respected in the community as one of Rio’s most talented “light painters”, Madeira’s work is bounding with the energy of the paintings that adorn the public spaces of Rio.
Light painting has become increasingly popular in the past five years, though the method has existed since the early part of the last century. Madeira has been creating pieces since 2008, mining his imagination to create work that transports the observer to an illusory landscape.
“My responsibility as a photographer is to take to the spectator some of the innumerable possibilities that the photograph can create,” says Madeira. “I can paint the Wall of China, or any other environment without depreciating the appearance of existing structures.”
Everyone, in theory, can create a light painting. Many projects are, of course, much more advanced, notably Fabrice Wittner’s projected light paintings, an eerie mix between a Banksy stencil and the plot-line of a Scooby Doo episode.
Madeira has the chops to work in many different areas of light painting. He has participated in important local art events, including a performance at the most recent Babilônia Feira Hype and last year’s Art Rua project (the celebration of street art organized by Instituto RUA during the 2011 International Contemporary Art Fair of Rio).
Most recently Madeira has worked with local graffiti artists (including Marcelo Ment) on projects aimed at updating Santa Teresa bonde stations.
“These days I am working on my own lighting devices, lanterns, developing solutions for each type of light,” mentions Madeira.
Light is the brush and palette for Madeira, though the environment must also lend itself to the imagined scenario he seeks to create. “We need to think about the photograph and what we will make inside of it, each environment has its particularity.”
For Madeira, and other light painters, the interest in what light can do goes beyond shades and depth, it is the thing itself, it is the subject. Madeira has used light to create a variety of environments and, some of his best work, abstract light paintings.
Madeira is heavily involved in Rio’s urban art scene and can be found snapping shots of local painters or working throughout the city on his own projects. He has developed his craft and is positioned to create more intricate projects, though, for him, his art is not only intended as a personal expression but, rather, a source of inspiration for observers.
“I have many ideas for the future, but what I want to hear more in the future, is that my work, helped or changed the life of somebody, made someone think differently.”