Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Subterranean Sewers of Sao-Paolo


In the bowels of Sao-Paolo, through the deepest and innermost portions of its winding subterranean sewer system, a gallery exists that defies the disfigured and discomfiting surroundings of a venue few people would even think of visiting. A location where first time visitors may not have the constitution to continue the journey within, much less return for a much deeper appreciation. The gallery's canvass are the walls and pillars of the sewer, enclosed in a tight, humid, foul smelling aura that instantly distorts the imagination and shatters the balance of one's creative harmony.

This milieu is both the workplace and exhibition area of Zezao, one of Brazil's most famous graffiti artists, whose choice of the dark and dangerous part of the city - where the brown and smelly water is a foul mixture that combines the rubbish and sewage from above - returns time and again to produce his work. Oftentimes submerged in knee to waist deep waters in the solitary confines of his chosen studio, Zezao has had several vaccinations that allow him to pursue his artistic, if not unimaginable, expression. Vaccinations that would perhaps put the worst L.A. junkie to shame in terms of the number of needle marks on his body.

Graffiti as an art form has few followers and there exists very little tolerance for these, especially among smug government bureaucrats who consider anyone with a spray paint can performing an act of hostility. Titifreak, another street artist, has shown his work around the world, but is considered a hostile vandal in Sao Paolo. Authorities have a limited perspective of what they consider hostile, without considering that the urban blight created by uncollected garbage, or overhead railways, humongous billboards that bring revenues to the city, are hostile to those that live within for its capacity to block the skyline and jar the imagination.

The Sao Paolo graffiti art has attracted tourists and artists from all over the world. However, in the city itself, there are many who consider it vandalism and few who consider it a work of art. Everyday, painters from the city authorities remove or erase these from the walls, in most cases removing even those that were elaborately and painstakingly done. Ironically, the Sao Paolo Museum of Contemporary Art is paying tribute to graffiti artists from Italy and Brazil. Sadly, many are those who dismiss even the most artistic ones as unacceptable. These neanderthals do not realize they are missing a part of literature and a chunk of culture.

But deep within the uninviting maze of tunnels in the sewers of Sao Paolo, there are works of such artistic magnificence executed with great care and thought provoking perseverance to detail that could be truly considered a work of art. But only the insects and the rats that infest the locale would get to see it. They would even mind the intrusion and be indifferent to its value. With all the dangers, filth, stench, and potential disease that inhabit the place, Zezao continues to pursue his art. His objective is to draw attention to the years of neglect that have caused the pollution. He wants to show the architecture, the pillars, the tunnels and all that make up the sewers that have been degraded and turned the place into rubbish. And beneath the gloom of his underground gallery, he hopes that his message will be heard.

Here is an idealist, a rebel who fights a lonely and gut wrenching battle against the forces of neglect and indifference; using his artistic talent, skill, youth, and perhaps his life to elicit action not for himself but for the city he cares for, hoping that his efforts will not be laid to waste.

To this day, city authorities consider his work as being full of, and fit only, for the end products of large intestines right where it is displayed. What a waste!

Haarrrrrrrwwwk...Twoooooph...Ting!

6 comments:

Philippine Updates said...

Where you find your article ideas continue to amaze me. very nice!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi JC,

I get feeds on the company website that is linked to environment, business, economic, political and social blogs. At other times, I just scour the news sites on the internet.

Thanks. --Durano, done!

Kim said...

what a fascinating story Durano...
a passion for art that may eventually cause his demise ....
raw talent indeed and so sad that the city chooses to ignore his work...
thanks for your insight into this very courageous talent !!!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Kim,
Zezao has gone to the UK about 2 years ago and has also painted in some sewers there.

He is a rebel and I admire his method, and the tenacity by which he pursues his cause. I have a high regard for such people and I somehow have this connection.

I was reminded of you and your 101 artists, and how you get the inspiration to channel energies for creative pursuits. Ahh, the magic that Divine Providence brings, and He definitely knows whom to give these to. Thanks! --Durano, done!

Kim said...

ah yes Durano...
when one has suffered I think they become a channel for the creativity of a greater power...indeed..
a force that can only be seen through the mind's eye...and felt within the heart...

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Expressed like A true artist Kim.

The worst of experiences brings out the best and deeply rooted talents that lie within; that only comes to the surface upon introspection, and determines the path we need to take to fulfill the purpose of its existence.

The talent is overlooked when people are too comfortable.And the pain that comes with its discovery is alleviated by a sense of illumination and enlightenment in its application. --Durano, done!