The Voice of Colors: Rita, Eduardo, and Jorge in Rio

Streetart is becoming more and more not only tolerated, but recognized and promoted. Especially in South America, it has a long tradition – as a medium where colors give the people a voice.

#favelismo – an art movement turning poverty and humiliation into power and pride. That’s what great street art stands for.

I’m introducing Rita Wainer, Eduardo Kobra, and Jorge Selarón, three of the greatest urban artists that left ineradicable traces in Rio de Janeiro.


Street Art

Eduardo Kobra


Rita Wainer


Jorge Selarón



Street Art

Street art is, obviously, an artwork in public locations where the artist does not only speak his mind, but often also for its people. Although there are pieces commissioned by private property owners and investors, many of the murals are created illegally – and therefore artists choose to remain anonymous or work under a pseudonym. The most famous enigmatic urban artist is undoubtedly Banksy from the British city of Bristol.

Street artists do not only decorate walls and things, they also use them as props. Probably the most famous pieces made in this style were created by Lithuania-born Ernest Zacharevich whose name is inextricably linked with Penang Island in Malaysia.

Streetart such as murals did not derive from graffiti – just think of Mexican muralists like Diego Rivera who worked long before the invention of spray cans – but are sometimes connected and combined. Especially the illegally working artists use spray paint, stencil, posters, and stickers – because they can be quickly applied – before the cops enter the scene.

Canned art.

Streetart often carries a social or political message – and sometimes it just doesn’t, especially when the pieces are commissioned by private investors. Is this a sellout? I don’t know. Obviously, there are different approaches to urban art.

Nadie gana – nobody is winning; a pretty clear message stenciled on a wall in Bogotá.

I personally enjoyed the urban art in Colombia the most since it is wild, anarchistic, angry and rebellious.  Compared to Bogotá, much of Rio’s street art is quite tamed; however beautiful and interesting and therefore, let me tell you the story of three ingenious artists.

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Rita Wainer

Rita Wainer, born in 1978 in São Paulo, the cradle of ingenious artists and Brazil’s hub to phenomenal art, was a highly aspiring Brazilian fashion designer when she decided in 2013 to move to Rio de Janeiro and give up soft fabric for hard bricks and rough earth, i. e. becoming a visual artist. And come to think of it, the step is pretty congruent since fashion can totally be considered urban art.

“The city is ours” – a clearly feminist mural by Rita Wainer in her home city São Paulo.

Rio de Janeiro – it actually was in January 2013 that Rita opened her internet store where she’s selling her sculptures – straight from her ample flat close to the Copacabana, without any middlemen, but with great success: During the first three years, she had sold 1,000 pieces – or like she puts it in an interview:  Pelé’s thousand goals.

There is a lot of passive aggressiveness in Wainer’s portraits: Her ladies are always alone, sort of defenseless.

The resourceful variety of her works – illustrations, painting on tiles and places – and, of course,  walls – is less surprising when you look at her hyper-artistic genealogy: Everybody in Brazil knows some Wainers – be it Rita’s mother, artist Pinky Wainer, be it her grandparents, actress and model Danuza Leão and her husband, publisher Samuel Wainer – just to mention the very close family.
Keeping up with the Wainers?
No way, Rita follows her own path and does not want to be seen as a clanswoman with a golden spoon in her mouth.

No smile, never.

Although Rita Wainer’s murals are just one niche of her artistic activities, for obvious reasons, it’s the most conspicuous.

Don’t mess with her: A Medusa-like female holding a poniard.

She’s painting girls. Skinny girls in bold, unshaded colors. Fragile beings with serious facial expressions. When they look at you, their glance is piercing – hardly any expression.
Often they even don’t look at you, turn their head away from the beholder in oblivion. Maybe haughtiness. Never fear.

Female marine: yearning and love – I keep waiting for you. This mural is also at the Boulevard Olimpico, not far from Kobra’s Etnias.

Although these girls are so skinny and deem so airy and fragile, there is something very fierce to them; maybe it’s the black outlining, maybe the pointy outline….in any case, take their prickly gaze as a warning….never to mess with them.

Wanna check out Ria Wainer’s online shop? Click to open its doors.

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Eduardo Kobra

Yes, him, too: Born in São Paulo in 1975, to be precise in the poor neighborhood of Garden Martinique. Therefore no descendence from a dynasty of artists. However, with over 500 works painted all over Brazil and 17 other countries around the planet, Kobra is one of world’s most famous muralists.

But yes, he started as subversive as almost every urban artists, as an illegal tagger. He got arrested three times for his passion. Illegal? Sure! Talented? Well, one judge was so impressed by Kobra’s talent that he sentenced him to….paint a mural on the wall of a police station!

Sentenced to paint? Not in this case: This work at Congonhas Airport in São Paulo is based on a photograph from the 1950s and is not pure decoration but also meant to be a tribute the Brazil history.

Eventually, in the 1990s, Kobra was given the chance to make some money with his art by designing posters and painting toy sets. Here, too, his talent was quickly recognized and the jobs got better and more professional. Which is actually very admirable since Eduardo Kobra got no professional training whatsoever.
His asset is exclusively his talent.

Today, Kobra is mostly famous for his hyper-realistic portraits of famous people, painted over graphic patterns of geometric shapes in bold colors.

LGBTQ-friendly mural at the Parque Ibirapuera in São Paulo.

He paid tribute to great Brazilians such as architect Oscar Niemeyer and racing driver Ayrton Senna.

Ayrton Senna on a wall at the Lapa district in Rio. Senna died at the age of 34 died in an accident at the San Marino Grand Prix. 

Anyway, slowly but surely he paints his way around the globe by paying tribute to historically important personalities such as Nelson Mandela, Albert Einstein, Anne Frank, Mahatma Gandhi, and Malala Yousafzai. But also Bob Dylan in 2015, David Bowie in 2016, and in 2017 John Lennon were perpetuated in Minnesota, Jersey City, respectively  Bristol, Banksy’s hometown.

No, Kobra is not as angry and rebellious as the young men at the Candelaria in Bogotá. However, he’s not oblivious to what is going on in his country and thematized social and political problems such as the construction of the reservoir dam in Belo Mento – destroying the living environment of the indigenous people.

Mural Belo Monte in the city center of São Paulo.

Yes, but how about the awareness for the concrete jungle? In 2016, Eduardo Kobra was invited to create a gigantic mural: Las Etnias, Ethnicities, measures over 32,000 square feet and made it to the Guinness Book of Records. Of course, today, three years later, it has been exceeded at least twice.

Higher, faster, farther – very few Cariocas had a reason to celebrate the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. It was a good example of how gigantomania can totally fail – and therefore, for me, it’s really difficult to celebrate an artistic project that was commissioned with the same spirit of gigantomania. However, nobody can dislike the idealist idea of we are all one people that’s behind it, so here are the five panels to be admired at the Boulevard Olimpico:

Starting on the mural’s left side with a Mursi woman from Africa,….
…. followed by a Kayin woman from Myanmar / Asia.
A Tapajós Indio from the Americas is the central portrait.
To his right an indigenous man from Europe….
…and a Huli from Papua-New Guinea / Oceania.

Eduardo Kobra does not have an agent or manager and can be contacted through his website.

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Jorge Selarón

The Cristo, the sugar loaf, these ‘colorful stairs’ – together with the world famous beaches of the Copacabana and Ipanema, it’s these three points of interest that every visitor to Rio de Janeiro puts on his to-do-list.

Surprisingly – and sadly – not many of these visitors know about the man who created those stairs, the world-famous Escadaria Selarón.

An eclectic mix of tiles and pieces of china.

It was Jorge Selarón, a painter and ceramist, born in 1947 in Limache, Chile.

Selarón led a pretty restless lifestyle: He had passed through 57 countries before he moved to the Lapa neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro in the 1980s; right next to the stairs that eventually should make him famous – and become his death place.

Upper tile from Berlin, lower tile from Portugal.

After having made a living from selling paintings in restaurants all over the city, Jorge Selarón had begun decorating the 215 stairs connecting Lapa with the Santa Teresa neighborhood with ceramic tiles in 1990.

Flags from African countries in the upper row, musicians who left a great artistic legacy in the lower row.

He considered this sort of a Sisiphos work a tribute to the Brazilian people.

Decorating the stairs, in the beginning, he used tiles and porcelain donated by his friends and supporters. Eventually, people from all over the world contributed by supplying him with tiles. Today, you find the most incredible – and slightly absurd – motives there. More than 2000 tiles from over 60 countries were processed.

As French as can be: A camembert cheese and a group of Breton women.

It took Selarón twenty years to complete his work – whereby he did not consider it finished. However, the stairs were declared a city landmark in 2005 and Jorge became an honorary citizen of Rio de Janeiro.

A wild mix of faiences.

In a documentary from 2010, the artist explained that the stairs would be finished only the day of his death.

En 2010, Selarón concluyó la imponente bandera en la parte alta de la escalera, en la esquina de la Calle Pinto Martins.

Sadly, this day came unexpected and far too early: On January 10, 2013, Jorge Selarón was found dead on the stairs, not far from his home.

The police did not rule out homicide since he had received death threats by a former co-worker. However, friends of Jorge’s claimed that he was depressive so that suicide might have been a possible cause of mortality.

Wanna read more about Rio de Janeiro and urban art in Brazil? You might enjoy these posts:


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SÃO PAULO – a tour ‘guided by’ muralist Eduardo Kobra

Christ the Redeemer? In Rio de Janeiro. The jungle? At Manaus. The waterfalls? In Iguacu. So when in Brazil, why go to São Paulo?
Why? Because it’s the coolest and most artsy city of Brazil and you will get inspired and have a great time; that’s why.

Probably Kobra’s most political mural, raising awareness for indigenous people being threatened by a factory being built in the city of Altamira in Belo Monte.

Talking about cool and artsy: Let one of the most glorious sons of São Paulo guide you through the city to different neighborhoods and iconic buidings – let’s hear it for Mr. Eduardo Kobra!

Eduardo Kobra was born in 1975 in São Paulo and is one of world’s most recognized muralists. His huge, very expressive works are found in the US – and of course in Brazil. I introduced his pentaptych ‘Ethnicities’ that he has painted on the occasion of the Olympics in Rio in 2016.

Rio de Janeiro - Eduardo Kobra / bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Mural “Ethnicities”: Kobra’s most famous mural in Rio de Janeiro used to be – according to the Guinness Book of World Records – till 2017 the largest spray paint mural in the world (3,000 square meters (over 32,000 sq ft)). It depicts five indigenous people from different parts of the world.

His kaleidoscope-ish portraits are – well, rather hidden than found – all over São Paulo, and not only do I lead you to the walls, at the same time I point out attractions and points of interests in their surroundings.

Wanna follow my route? I’ve marked all the Kobras on this map – and for your convenience all the other spots mentioned in this post, too.

São Paulo

How to get there and where to stay

Avenida Paulista

Parque Ibirapuera

Luz

Centro

São Paulo


São Paulo has over 12 millions inhabitants and is not only the most populous city in Brazil, but also the 13th largest city in the world (according to population). It has by gross domestic product the largest economy in South America – and is ironically being called Germany’s largest industrial city since approximately 1000 (!) German companies are operating and producing in São Paulo – Volkswagen being probably the largest and most famous.

Besides its pretty powerful economy, São Paulo can pride itself to have a vast art scene, many excellent museums and exhibition – and very relaxed and friendly people. If you don’t want to rely on people’s English (which is often not so great), you might brush up yours on babbel.

Oh, once we’re on it and talking ’bout cash: In São Paulo – as anywhere else in Brazil – you pay with Reais. The exchange rate is 1 US$  = 3,43 BRL (as per April 2018; check the current rate  e. g. on XE.

For an excellent tourist service and loads of really great brochures and maps go to one of the Centrais de Informação Turística (CIT), the tourist centers located at the airport, at the central bus station, at the Paulista and the Praça da República (where you can also meet the guys from the Free Walking Tour). They even had a mobile tourist office a the Parque Ibirapuera where I collected a vast variety of information material right from a truck – and the lady handing them out was a darling and very nice and helpful.

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How to get there and where to stay

Let’s start right at the airport:

Like most bigger cities in Brazil, São Paulo has two airports, too: Guarulhos International, located 30 km / 19 mi north east of the city center, and Congonhas which is in the city and can be reached in about 30 minutes by public transport.

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Kobra’s colorful interpretation of  Congonhas airport.

If you are coming to São Paulo by bus, you’ll arrive at the Rodoviária do Tietê from where you get to the center by either bus or subway in about 20 minutes.

There is an excellent system of public transportation consisting of a subway (here’s a map) and different bus types (rapid and conventional).

If you find a reasonably priced hotel around the subway station Consolaꞔão/Paulista, go for it: it’s centrally and conveniently located. I stayed at a really nice apartment-hotel at the Rua Augusta which is the off-scene theater and clubbing district, however, the hotel was very quiet, very comfortable, yet reasonably priced. I can only recommend it.

Augusta Park Suite Hotel
Rua Augusta 922
São Paulo
Phone: +55 – 11 – 31 24 44 00
Email: augusta@augustapark.com.br

The Rua Augusta is packed with all sort of restaurants and cafés and bars – just walk around and take your pick, they are all very nice.

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Avenida Paulista

Although there is a ‘center’, São Paulo’s lifeline is the Avenida Paulista, stretching from Praꞔa Marechal Cordeiro de Farias all the way to the subway station Paraíso.

So let’s get started at the Paulista’s western end close to the subway station Consolaꞔão where Kobra painted the great Brazilian racing driver Ayrton Senna, who died in 1994 at the age of 34 at the San Marino Grand Prix.

Sao Paulo - Eduardo Kobra / bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Honoring the late Ayrton Senna who tragically died at the age of 34. Now his portrait lives on at Rua Dr. Antonino dos Santos Rocha, close to the Consolacão subway station.

Walking down the Paulista, you’ll pass many tall bank buildings, big stores, and malls: The Paulista is basically São Paulo’s 5th Avenue.

Four blocs down from Rua Augusta, you’ll find one of the best art museums São Paulo has to offer, the Museu de Arte de São Paulo. Besides their own collection of modern art, they organize inspiring exhibitions. For art-lovers, a visiting this venue is a must.

MASP
Museu de arte de São Paulo
Avenida Paulista 1578
São Paulo
Phone: + 55 – 11 – 3149 5959

The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m. (Thursday to 8 p. m.), entrance fee is 35 R$ (10,50 US$)

Another three blocs down, to your left on
Alameda Joaquim Eugênio de Lima, a nice surprise is waiting for you: a brandnew Kobra – I even saw it in the making beginning of 2018!

Sao Paulo - Eduardo Kobra / bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
A assume this mural was commissioned by the hospital. I particularly like that the doctor’s name is ‘Bueno’ – which means good.

Keep walking – whereby if you don’t like to walk, you can hop on one of the buses going down the Paulista or even take the subway. The disadvantage is that in Brazil you pay one price per ticket, i. e. it doesn’t matter if you go just to the next stop or across town – you always pay the same price (which is 3,60 R$ (a bit over 1 US$)).

Getting to the end of the Paulista means getting to the highlights – of the Kobras as well as of the attractions: concentrated behind the subway station Brigadeiro, you’ll find the Capela Santa Catarina to your left.

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Two Brazilian heroes in one picture:
Star architect Oscar Niemeyer depicted by star muralist Eduardo Kobra

Right behind the Saint Catherine’s Chapel is the wonderful Japan House, a venue showing Japanese art and serving excellent Japanese food.

Japan House
Avenida Paulista 1578
São Paulo
Phone: + 55 – 11 – 30908900

The Japan House is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a. m. to 10 p. m., Sunday to 6 p. m., entrance to the exhibitions is free.

They also have a very nice restaurant – and don’t feel funny for eating Japanese food in Brazil: São Paulo is famous for Japanese and fusion cuisine!

Now, don’t you miss one of the most important Kobras right behind this building depicting another Brazilian art hero, namely star-architect Oscar Niemeyer!

You might get an even better look from the last attraction, located on the other side of the road, the romantic Casa das Rosas.

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The Casa das Roses – obviously named after the beautiful rose garden.

The Casa das Rosas – the house of roses – is a culture center organizing exhibitions, concerts and much more. It’s always worth it to drop in and check out what’s on.

Casa das Rosas
Avenida Paulista 37
São Paulo
Phone: + 55 – 11 – 32 85 69 86
Email: contato@casadasrosas.org.br

The exhibitions are open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a. m. to 10 p. m., Sunday to 6 p. m. Regarding other activities, please check their website.

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Parque Ibirapuera

Once you are close to the Brigadeiro station, let’s visit some more Kobras – and some other fantastic venues. But I have to prepare you: We are going to the Parque Ibirapuera, where especially on weekends many São Paulians are strolling with their families, walking their dogs, or jogging by themselves.

Take any bus going down the Avenida Brigadeiro Luís Antônio and tell the driver you want to get off close to Praça Armando de Sales Oliveira.

Here you can admire the Monumento às Bandeiras, created in 1954 by Victor Brecheret, an Italian-Brazilian sculptor, commemorating the settling expeditions into the inner Brazil in the 17th century.

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A monument honoring great man…

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…and a great man honoring the monument.
Unfortunately, this mural by Eduardo Kobra, located on the wall below the Igreja do Calvário   is strongly damaged.

Now cross the Avenida Pedro Álvares Cabral and you’ll find yourself at one of the nicest places in  São Paulo, the Parque Ibirapuera.

Ibirapuera is only city’s second largest park (in case you wonder: the largest one is Parque Anhanguera in the northern part of the city), however, it spreads over 2 qkm / 0.8 sq mi and besides its lush meadows, trees, and flowers as well as creeks and lakes, there is much to see even for those who are oblivious to the beauty of nature: three fantastic museums as well as the planetarium are located on or adjacent to the premises:

To be honest, I’m not so crazy about planetariums, but I like the design by Eduardo Corona, Roberto G. Tibau and Antônio Carlos Pitombo, that reminds me of an air saucer – very suitable.

Planetário Ibirapuera Prof. Aristóteles Orsini
Avenida Pedro Álvares Cabral
Phone: + 55 – 11 – 55 75 52 06

To tell you the truth, I find the info on their hours a bit confusing, so if you want to visit, you better contact them beforehand; and tell them to improve the info on their site, please.

Just a stone throw away is the very nice Museu Afro Brazil.

While the exhibition on Portuguese colonial art on the ground floor is a bit pointless, the upper floor is an artistic treasury showing Afro-Brazilian art from different Brazilian regions as well as the African and Caribbean influence – like masks from Benin and artefacts from Haiti.

Whether folkloric naive sculptures….

….or political drawings like this one by Sidney Amaral “Estudo para gargalheira ou quem falará por nós?” (Study of a gargalheira* or who will be speaking for us?) – the museum shows a vast collection of all different kind of Afro Brazilian art.
*a gargalheira is the iron choker that was used on slaves 

Whether it’s traditional bead embroidery for the tropical carnival….

….or contemporary sculptures by Afro-Brazilian artists (here again a piece by Sidney Amaral whose work is so diverse)
Sidney Amaral Os chinelos da Mara (Mara’s flip flops)

I can only recommend visiting this venue.

Museu Afro Brasil
Avenida Pedro Alvares Cabral
São Paulo
Phone: + 55 – 11 – 33 20 89 00

The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m., entrance fee are R$ 6

You think we forgot about Kobra? No way, he will be our next stop. Let’s walk along the facade of the Pavilhão das Culturas Brasileiras and take a look at murals by other also very talented artists.

One of many great murals decorating the Pavilion

Once you spot the Marquise Do Ibirapuera, you will immediately recognize Kobra’s style – decorating a public bathroom. I guess once you are a star like him, you get away with painting also restrooms.

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Northern wall of the Marquise (including the entrance to the gents’ bathroom)

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Western wall of the Marquise.

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Southern wall of the Marquise – including the entrance to the ladies’ bathroom.

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Eastern wall of the Marquise – depicting to women kissing: A tribute to the extremely LGBT-friendly attitude found everywhere in Brazil.

Next door you might want to visit the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo – and maybe have a snack at their very nice cafeteria.

Museu de Arte Moderna – decorated by a mural created by two other Brazilian graffiti super stars, namely OSGEMEOS.

Here she is again, Tarsila do Amaral, and her cubist painting
“Estrada de Ferro Central do Brasil”

MAM – Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo
Avenida Pedro Álvares Cabral
São Paulo
Phone: + 55 – 11 – 50 85 13 00
Email: atendimento@mam.org.br

Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m.

Entrance fee are R$ 7,00 and Saturdays are free.

Next to the MAM seems to have landed another air saucer – but this one has a famous creator: It was Mr. Oscar Niemeyer himself who design the Lucas Nogueira Garcez Pavillion, better known as “Oca”.

Parque Ibirapuera Oca_Foto_JoseCordeiro, trata-se de vista da fachada da Oca e o crédito. Foto: Jose Cordeiro/SPTuris.
The art has landed: Iconic “Oca” by Oscar Niemeyer
(Photo: Jose Cordeiro/SPTuris)

Since 2017 it’s part of the city museum for being a historic building.
If you are interested in visiting, you have to inquire when it’s possible.

Museu da cidade de São Paulo 
Avenida Pedro Álvares Cabral 50
São Paulo
Phone: + 55 -11 – 50 83  0199
Email: oca@prefeitura.sp.gov.br

Before you continue to the best and biggest of the art museums, the Museu de Arte Contemporânea, you shouldn’t miss to take a look at the sculptures in this part of the park – some of them are really outstanding.

Young people hanging out on Angelo Venosa’s sculpture of bones made of aluminium.

Talking ’bout outstanding: if you want to visit only one single exhibition while in São Paulo, it should definitely be the Museu de Arte Contemporânea.

Wild creatures welcome the visitors at the entrance hall:
Nina Pandolfo “Um Amor Sem Igual” (left) and one of Marino Marini’s horses.

It’s the place where the São Paulo Bienal is taking place – and obviously after every bienal is over, they leave some great art behind. Actually you could spend an entire day here and awing at great pieces from all over the world.

Rafael Canogar “Os Revolucionários”

Cybèle Varela “De tudo aquilo que pode ser I, II e III”

Not to be missed!

Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo 
Avenida Pedro Álvares Cabral 1301
São Paulo
Phone: + 55 – 11 – 26 48 02 54

Opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m. (Tuesday to 9 p. m.), entrance is free.

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Luz

Another beautiful park full of lush plants and great art is the Jardim da Luz behind the art museum Pinacoteca.

Facade of the museum with matching sculptures.

The Jardim has an area of 82,000 square meters, with two reflection pools and two ponds; it was declared a historic landmark by Condephaat in 1981.

What a great service: A mobile ophthalmologist at the park. You see that the name for the eye doctor is very similar in English and Portuguese – so you have that covered… 

There is enough art to be admired even on Tuesdays when the Pinacoteca is closed.
Vlavianos “Homem Pássaro”

Various sculptures made of aluminium by Odette Haidar Eid between 1983and 2002

Lasar Segall Três Jovens against the backdrop of the Pinacoteca

As part of the downtown revitalization project, it resumed dialogue with Pinacoteca, and was renovated in 1999. In 2000, the State Government earmarked funds for the purchase of Brazilian sculptures for its lawns. Even today, the exhibit is free of charge, for those who want to stroll through its green areas and also visit an open air exhibit. The Pinacoteca houses a vast collection of modern Brazilian art and is another mecca for the art aficionados. Founded in 1905, it is the city’s oldest art museum.

Pinacoteca
Praça da Luz
São Paulo
Phone: + 55 – 11 – 33 24 10 00
Email: pinacotecasp
@pinacoteca.org.br

The Pinacoteca is open from Wednesday to Monday from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m.

Entrance fee are R$ 6, Saturday is free

And Kobra?

His mural is to be found at the corner Avenida Tiradentes and Rua Dr. Rodrigo de Barros. On the way there you might want to see some sacred art – you can do so at the Museu de Arte Sacra de São Paulo.

A perfect painting in a perfect location.

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Centro

To explore São Paulo’s historic center, I recommend you join a ‘free’ walking tour (remember: the guides work for tips, so please don’t make it a free ‘free’ tour).

The happy wanderers – and now it’s your turn: Find W….no, Renata.
(Photo: Sao Paulo Free Walking Tour)

For the ‘Old Downtown’-tour, they meet at the tourist information booth at Praꞔa República (they also offer a tour along the Avenida Paulista and to the bohemian quarter Vila Madalena).

Well, this is what sadly happens when art is exposed to weather and pollution – it’s getting demolished.

Anyway, the downtown-tour takes you i. a. to the Biblioteca Mário de Andrade, to the grand Teatro Municipal, the Monument to Carlos Gomes – a copy of the Fontana di Trevi at the Praça Ramos de Azevedo, the Prefeitura – which is the townhall with a botanic garden and a pond on the roof; you cannot visit the building on this tour, but of course on another occasion.

Without a doubt there are many options where to grab a bite at the Centro. If you are opting for a healthier meal, give “Apfel” a try; that it means apple in German gives you a hint that they serve vegetarian food:

Apfel Centro
Rua Dom José de Barros 99
São Paulo
Phone: + 55 –  11 – 32 56 79 09

Open Monday to Saturday 11 a. m. to 3 p. m.

The beautiful fountain behind the Teatro Municipal.

If you don’t mind walking, you can stroll from downtown up towards the Paulista along Rua da Consolação.

While you admire the Nossa Senhora da Consolação church at the first big junction, don’t miss the great murals all around you; although they are not by Kobra – one of his best murals is to be seen at the corner of Rua Maria Antônia.

Although the paintings are large, they are not always easy to spot. I kept my eyes open for you.

Once you are here, you might want to get a drink – and a break – at the bar next to the mural, that is called ‘Esquina do Índio’, the Indian’s corner.

Esquina do Índio
Rua da Consolação/Rua Maria Antônia 49
São Paulo
Phone: + 55 – 11 – 31 20 24 18

Open from Monday to Saturday from 7 a. m. to 2 a. m.

Esquina do Índio – the Indian’s corner: A nice bar named after Kobra’s most political mural.
While these gentlemen are taking a short rest, the people in the family grave are resting for
ever; hopefully in peace.

Either keep walking or get on a bus and get off at the Cemitério da Consolação, a small, Brazilian version of the legendary Parisian Cimetière du Père-Lachaise. This cemetery is much smaller and the people buried here are not as world famous as those in Paris, still it’s a beautiful and interesting place.

São Paulo was only a three day stop on my trip to Southern Brazil. To read about the other – likewise fascinating destinations – check out my BRAZIL travel guide.

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Guide to SÃO PAULO

(Updated February 2019)

I will not beat around the bush: São Paulo was my favorite city in Brazil. Although Bonito enchanted me with its natural beauty, Foz do Iguaꞔu impressed me with the power of nature – São Paulo is the place I see myself live and work and be part of the cool, artsy crowd.

Sao Paulo - Eduardo Kobra / bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Two Brazilian heroes in one picture: Star architect Oscar Niemeyer depicted by star muralist Eduardo Kobra.

Talking ’bout cool, artsy crowd: I decided to let one of the most glorious sons of São Paulo guide you through the city – let’s hear it for Mr. Eduardo Kobra!

Eduardo Kobra was born in 1975 in São Paulo and is one of world’s most recognized muralists. His huge, very expressive works are found in the US – and of course in Brazil. I introduced his pentaptych ‘Ethnicity’ that he has painted on the occasion of the Olympics in Rio in 2016.

Rio de Janeiro - Eduardo Kobra / bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Mural “Ethnicity”

His kaleidoscope-ish portraits are – well, rather hidden than found – all over São Paulo, and not only do I lead you to the walls, at the same time I point out attractions and points of interests in their surroundings.

So lets go, we start right at the airport:

Like most bigger cities in Brazil, São Paulo has two airports, too: Guarulhos International, located 30 km / 19 mi north east of the city center, and Congonhas which is in the city and can be reached in about 30 minutes by public transport.

Sao Paulo - Eduardo Kobra / bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Kobra’s colorful interpretation of  Congonhas airport.

If you are coming to São Paulo by bus, you’ll arrive at the Rodoviária do Tietê from where you get to the center by either bus or subway in about 20 minutes.

If you find a reasonably priced hotel around the subway station Consolaꞔão/Paulista, go for it: it’s centrally and conveniently located. I stayed at the Rua Augusta (check the CONCLUSION and RATING page for details) which is the off-scene theater and clubbing district, however, the hotel was very quiet, very comfortable, yet reasonably priced. I can only recommend it.

Avenida Paulista

Parque Ibirapuera

Luz

Centro

Wanna follow my route? I’ve marked all the Kobras on this map – and for your convenience all the other spots mentioned in this post, too.

Avenida Paulista

Although there is a ‘center’, São Paulo’s lifeline is the Avenida Paulista, stretching from Praꞔa Marechal Cordeiro de Farias all the way to the subway station Paraíso.

So let’s get started at the Paulista’s western end close to the subway station Consolaꞔão where Kobra painted the great Brazilian racing driver Ayrton Senna, who died in 1994 at the age of 34 at the San Marino Grand Prix.

Sao Paulo - Eduardo Kobra / bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Honoring the late Ayrton Senna who tragically died at the age of 34. Now his portrait lives on at Rua Dr. Antonino dos Santos Rocha, close to the Consolacão subway station.

Walking down the Paulista, you’ll pass many tall bank buildings, big stores, and malls: The Paulista is basically São Paulo’s 5th Avenue.

Especially in the evening you should turn left into the Rua Augusta, the city’s vibrant party and entertainment street full of restaurants, bars, theaters, clubs and fun and follies.

Four blocs further is one of the best art museums São Paulo has to offer, the Museu de Arte de São Paulo. Besides their own collection of modern art, they organize inspiring exhibitions. For art-lovers, a visiting this venue is a must.

MASP
Museu de arte de São Paulo
Avenida Paulista 1578
São Paulo
Phone: + 55 – 11 – 3149 5959

The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m. (Thursday to 8 p. m.), entrance fee is 35 R$ (10,50 US$)

Another three blocs down, to your left on Alameda Joaquim Eugênio de Lima, a nice surprise is waiting for you: a brandnew Kobra – I even saw it in the making beginning of 2018!

Sao Paulo - Eduardo Kobra / bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
A assume this mural was commissioned by the hospital. I particularly like that the doctor’s name is ‘Bueno’ – which means good.

Keep walking – whereby if you don’t like to walk, you can hop on one of the buses going down the Paulista or even take the subway. The disadvantage is that in Brazil you pay one price per ticket, i. e. it doesn’t matter if you go just to the next stop or across town – you always pay the same price (which is 3,60 R$ (about 1 US$)).

Getting to the end of the Paulista means getting to the highlights – of the Kobras as well as of the attractions: concentrated behind the subway station Brigadeiro, you’ll find the Capela Santa Catarina to your left.

Sao Paulo - Eduardo Kobra / bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels

Right behind the Saint Catherine’s Chapel is the wonderful Japan House, a venue showing Japanese art and serving excellent Japanese food.

Japan House
Avenida Paulista 1578
São Paulo
Phone: + 55 – 11 – 30 90 89 00

The Japan House is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a. m. to 10 p. m., Sunday to 6 p. m., entrance to the exhibitions is free.

Now, don’t you miss one of the most important Kobras right behind this building depicting another Brazilian art hero, namely star-architect Oscar Niemeyer!

You might get an even better look from the last attraction, located on the other side of the road, the romantic Casa das Rosas.

Sao Paulo - Casa das Rosas / bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
The Casa das Roses – obviously named after the beautiful rose garden.

The Casa das Rosas – the house of roses – is a culture center organizing exhibitions, concerts and much more. It’s always worth it to drop in and check out what’s on.

Casa das Rosas
Avenida Paulista 37
São Paulo
Phone: + 55 – 11 – 32 85 69 86
Email: contato@casadasrosas.org.br

The exhibitions are open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a. m. to 10 p. m., Sunday to 6 p. m. Regarding other activities, please check their website.

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Parque Ibirapuera

Once you are close to the Brigadeiro station, let’s visit some more Kobras – and some other fantastic venues. But I have to warn you: We are going to the Parque Ibirapuera, where especially on weekends many São Paulians are strolling with their families, walking their dogs, or jogging by themselves.

Take any bus going down the Avenida Brigadeiro Luís Antônio and tell the driver you want to get off close to Praça Armando de Sales Oliveira.

Here you can admire the Monumento às Bandeiras, created in 1954 by Victor Brecheret, an Italian-Brazilian sculptor, commemorating the settling expeditions into the inner Brazil in the 17th century.

Sao Paulo  / bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
A monument honoring great man…

Sao Paulo - Eduardo Kobra / bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
…and a great man honoring the monument.
Unfortunately, this mural by Eduardo Kobra, located on the wall below the Igreja do Calvário   is strongly damaged.

Now cross the Avenida Pedro Álvares Cabral and you’ll find yourself at one of the nicest places in  São Paulo, the Parque Ibirapuera.

Ibirapuera is only city’s second largest park (in case you wonder: the largest one is Parque Anhanguera in the northern part of the city), however, it spreads over 2 qkm / 0.8 sq mi and besides its lush meadows, trees, and flowers as well as creeks and lakes, there is much to see even for those who are oblivious to the beauty of nature: three fantastic museums as well as the planetarium are located on or adjacent to the premises:

To be honest, I’m not so crazy about planetariums, but I like the design by Eduardo Corona, Roberto G. Tibau and Antônio Carlos Pitombo, that reminds me of an air saucer – very suitable.

Planetário Ibirapuera Prof. Aristóteles Orsini
Avenida Pedro Álvares Cabral
Phone: + 55 – 11 – 55 75 52 06

To tell you the truth, I find the info on their hours a bit confusing, so if you want to visit, you better contact them beforehand; and tell them to improve the info on their site, please.

Just a stone throw away is the very nice Museu Afro Brazil.

While the exhibition on Portuguese colonial art on the ground floor is a bit pointless, the upper floor is an artistic treasury showing Afro-Brazilian art from different Brazilian regions as well as the African and Caribbean influence – like masks from Benin and artefacts from Haiti.

Whether folkloric naive sculptures….

….or political drawings like this one by Sidney Amaral “Estudo para gargalheira ou quem falará por nós?” (Study of a gargalheira* or who will be speaking for us?) – the museum shows a vast collection of all different kind of Afro Brazilian art.
*a gargalheira is the iron choker that was used on slaves 

I can only recommend visiting this venue.

Museu Afro Brasil
Avenida Pedro Alvares Cabral
São Paulo
Phone: + 55 – 11 – 33 20 89 00

The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m., entrance fee are R$ 6

You think we forgot about Kobra? No way, he will be our next stop. Let’s walk along the facade of the Pavilhão das Culturas Brasileiras and take a look at murals by other also very talented artists.

One of many great murals decorating the Pavilion

Once you spot the Marquise Do Ibirapuera, you will immediately recognize Kobra’s style – decorating a public bathroom. I guess once you are a star like him, you get away with painting also restrooms.

Sao Paulo - Eduardo Kobra / bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Northern wall of the Marquise (including the entrance to the gents’ bathroom)

Sao Paulo - Eduardo Kobra / bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Western wall of the Marquise.

Sao Paulo - Eduardo Kobra / bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Southern wall of the Marquise – including the entrance to the ladies’ bathroom.

Sao Paulo - Eduardo Kobra / bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Eastern wall of the Marquise – depicting to women kissing: A tribute to the extremely LGBT-friendly attitude found everywhere in Brazil.

Next door you might want to visit the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo – and maybe have a snack at their very nice cafeteria.

Museu de Arte Moderna – decorated by a mural created by two other Brazilian graffiti super stars, namely OSGEMEOS.

Here she is again, Tarsila do Amaral, and her cubist painting
“Estrada de Ferro Central do Brasil”

MAM – Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo
Avenida Pedro Álvares Cabral
São Paulo
Phone: + 55 – 11 – 50 85 13 00
Email: atendimento@mam.org.br

Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m.

Entrance fee are R$ 7,00 and Saturdays are free.

Before you continue to the best and biggest of the art museums, the Museu de Arte Contemporânea, you shouldn’t miss to take a look at the sculptures in this part of the park – some of them are really outstanding.

Young people hanging out on Angelo Venosa’s sculpture of bones made of aluminium.

Talking ’bout outstanding: if you want to visit only one single exhibition while in São Paulo, it should definitely be the Museu de Arte Contemporânea.

Wild creatures welcome the visitors at the entrance hall:
Nina Pandolfo “Um Amor Sem Igual” (left) and one of Marino Marini’s horses.

It’s the place where the São Paulo Bienal is taking place – and obviously after every bienal is over, they leave some great art behind. Actually you could spend an entire day here and awing at great pieces from all over the world.

Rafael Canogar “Os Revolucionários”

Cybèle Varela “De tudo aquilo que pode ser I, II e III”

Not to be missed!

Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo 
Avenida Pedro Álvares Cabral 1301
São Paulo
Phone: + 55 – 11 – 26 48 02 54

Opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m. (Tuesday to 9 p. m.), entrance is free.

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Luz

Another beautiful park full of lush plants and great art is the Jardim da Luz behind the art museum Pinacoteca.

Facade of the museum with matching sculptures.

The Jardim has an area of 82,000 square meters, with two reflection pools and two ponds; it was declared a historic landmark by Condephaat in 1981.

There is enough art to be admired even on Tuesdays when the Pinacoteca is closed.
Vlavianos “Homem Pássaro”

As part of the downtown revitalization project, it resumed dialogue with Pinacoteca, and was renovated in 1999. In 2000, the State Government earmarked funds for the purchase of Brazilian sculptures for its lawns. Even today, the exhibit is free of charge, for those who want to stroll through its green areas and also visit an open air exhibit. The Pinacoteca houses a vast collection of modern Brazilian art and is another mecca for the art aficionados. Founded in 1905, it is the city’s oldest art museum.

Pinacoteca P
Praça da Luz
São Paulo
Phone: + 55 – 11 – 33 24 10 00
Email: pinacotecasp@pinacoteca.org.br

The Pinacoteca is open from Wednesday to Monday from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m.

Entrance fee are R$ 6, Saturday is free

And Kobra?

His mural is to be found at the corner Avenida Tiradentes and Rua Dr. Rodrigo de Barros. On the way there you might want to see some sacred art – you can do so at the Museu de Arte Sacra de São Paulo.

A perfect painting in a perfect location.

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Centro

To explore São Paulo’s historic center, I recommend you join a ‘free’ walking tour (remember: the guides work for tips, so please don’t make it a free ‘free’ tour).

The happy wanderers – and now it’s your turn: Find W….no, Renata.
(Photo: Sao Paulo Free Walking Tour)

For the ‘Old Downtown’-tour, they meet at the tourist information booth at Praꞔa República (they also offer a tour along the Avenida Paulista and to the bohemian quarter Vila Madalena).

Well, this is what sadly happens when art is exposed to weather and pollution – it’s getting demolished.

Anyway, the downtown-tour takes you i. a. to the Biblioteca Mário de Andrade, to the grand Teatro Municipal, the Monument to Carlos Gomes – a copy of the Fontana di Trevi at the Praça Ramos de Azevedo, the Prefeitura – which is the townhall with a botanic garden and a pond on the roof; you cannot visit the building on this tour, but of course on another occasion.

The beautiful fountain behind the Teatro Municipal.

If you don’t mind walking, you can stroll from downtown up towards the Paulista along Rua da Consolação.

While you admire the Nossa Senhora da Consolação church at the first big junction, don’t miss the great murals all around you; although they are not by Kobra – one of his best murals is to be seen at the corner of Rua Maria Antônia.

Although the paintings are large, they are not always easy to spot. I kept my eyes open for you.

Once you are here, you might want to get a drink – and a break – at the bar next to the mural, that is called ‘Esquina do Índio’, the Indian’s corner.

A very political mural by Eduardo Kobra – raising awareness for indigenous people being threatened by a factory being built in the city of Altamira in Belo Monte.

While these gentlemen are taking a short rest, the people in the family grave are resting for
ever; hopefully in peace.

Either keep walking or get on a bus and get off at the Cemitério da Consolação, a small, Brazilian version of the legendary Parisian Cimetière du Père-Lachaise. This cemetery is much smaller and the people buried here are not as world famous as those in Paris, still it’s a beautiful and interesting place.

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Wanna know how I perceived São Paulo while I was there? Check out this lesson of my Class of Brazil series:

Class of Brazil – 5th Lesson: I Call Them Like I See Them

Do you want to read about all the other cool places I’ve visited in Brazil? 
Then go to the main post and take your pick!




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