Today Banksy put up on his Instagram the message, “Today’s art has been cancelled due to policy activity.” A commenter on Banksy’s Instagram wrote, “Friend at 79th precinct said they nabbed banksy and 2 helpers in the act this morning around 6:00 a.m. They have them on video at another location too.” As reported by the NY Post and other outlets over the last week, the NYPD has been “on the hunt” for Banksy. [Update: Banksy has NOT been arrested, as confirmed by NYPD in a phone call with Gothamist’s Jen Carlson]
This all just reminded us of the fact that in Brazil, street art is LEGAL. In fact, the legalization of graffiti has spurred a real renaissance for street art in cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo where there is a strong distinction made between tagging, known as pichação, and grafite, a street art style distinctive to Brazil.
Art schools have created curriculum dedicated to street art, there was a Biennale of Graffiti Fine Art in São Paulo in 2010, and street art has become a key tool to community building in both favelas and other communities in Rio de Janeiro. Organizations such as Favela Painting are creating self-sustaining art organizations to paint entire neighborhoods, and now an entire hillside. Most importantly perhaps, the relationship between street artists and building owners has changed significantly, to the extent that owners often commission artists for pieces, while artists ask permission from owners to paint their buildings.
In Rio de Janeiro, the street art is ubiquitous. It exists in all corners of the city from the favela to upper class neighborhoods, from residential to institutional. It is bold in scale and aesthetics, and is anything but graffiti. The integration between street art and the urban fabric in all types of areas in Rio-residential, institutional, infrastructural, touristic-and across all socioeconomic neighborhoods is clear when one walks the streets. This previous article explores the hierarchy of permission between building owner and artist, how community is being developed in Rio through street art by artists, the city and non-profits, and how the urban fabric of Rio has contributed to the flourishing street art scene.
As Banksy evades police, take a quick look at some of the amazing works being produced in Rio de Janeiro.
Previous Banksy pieces in “Better Out Than In”:
Banksy in NYC Day 22: Urban Sphinx in “Everything Except the Kitchen Sphinx”
Banksy in NYC Day 21: Ghetto 4 Life in the South Bronx
Banksy in NYC Day 20: “Hammer Boy” on the Upper West Side
Banksy in NYC Day 18: Banksy x Os Gemeos Open Air Gallery Under the High Line in Chelsea
Banksy in NYC Day 17: Japanese Footbridge Scene in Bed Stuy
Banksy in NYC Day 16: Shoe Shine, Ronald McDonald’s with Enormous Shoes in the Bronx
Banksy in NYC Day 15: Twin Towers Tribute in Tribeca
Banksy in NYC Day 14: What We Do in Life Echoes for Eternity
Banksy in NYC Day 13: Spray Art for Sale Ignored in a Stall at Central Park
Banksy in NYC Day 12: Concrete Confessional at Cooper Union
Banksy in NYC Day 11: Silence of the Lambs Slaughterhouse Truck
Banksy in NYC Day 10: Beaver with Downed No Parking Sign in East New York
Bansky in NYC Day 9: Night Vision Horses on Truck and Car in the Lower East Side
Banksy in NYC Day 8: Fake Plato Quote in Greenpoint
Banksy in NYC Day 7: Battle to Survive a Broken Heart in Brooklyn
Banksy in NYC Day 5: 3-D Mobile Waterfall on Inside of Truck Touring Daily
Banksy in NYC Day 4: OCCUPY! The Musical in Bushwick is Already Gone But Two Still Remain
Banksy in NYC Day 3: Dog Peeing on Fire Hydrant in “You Complete Me”
Yes, Banksy is in NYC for the Month: Live Feed
Banksy in NY: Graffiti is a Crime Poster