Paulo Ito: “Fortunately, There Still Are Many White Walls”

Artist name: Paulo Ito

Featured Work 1: World Cup Mural


Paulo Ito is a Brazilian artist who specializes in thought-provoking, narrative street art. In a style that bends and stretches through perspectives, dimensions, dreams, and harsh realities, Ito explores the often destructive societal systems and patterns he observes around him. He portrays relationships, love, diversity, injustice, and loss with great sensitivity, humor, artistry, and beauty. In an interview with Slate, he discusses the well-known work above:

“The truth is there is so much wrong in Brazil that it is difficult to know where to start. … I didn’t mean [to say] nobody is doing anything against poverty, but we need to show the world or ourselves that the situation is still not good.”

You can also hear from Ito in this BBC interview by Steve Urquhart. Urquhart says that, “[t]housands of angry young Brazilians couldn’t care less about the 2016 Olympics: they’d rather paint Rio and São Paulo’s walls with their views about political turmoil, poverty and inequality.” Several of the works below reference the 2016 Olympics.

Featured Works Slideshow:

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5 Questions for the Artist:

1. What is art to you?

It is a tool for changing. Some artists try to change the world, others try to change their bank accounts (normally for more money).

2. What did you make in the past, and why?

Before the nowadays series I was painting female nudes in the street. Because I live in Brazil, and I was thinking that painting controversial stuff would not allow me to survive. Otherwise I was wondering about genre questions in street art aesthetics.

3. What are you making now, and why?

Now I am painting in the street–works with criticism of society and customs. Because I have now found that street art is completely free to say exactly what the artist wants to, overcoming aesthetic issues. My friend the artist Alexandre Orion was wondering if what I do has real artistic goals, and I realize he is thinking with today’s current mind. Real art must break paradigms, even being so direct as mine is, considering that 2018 will be the 100 year birthday of the “new” academy of art (look at Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain)–maybe it is time for change.

4. What are your hopes for the future?

Unfortunately, I can’t see a nice panorama about the future. Especially here in Brazil, lots of people are trying really hard to make us later than we already are, especially the radical neo-pentecostal politicians. But thinking about world wide, maybe things do get better in the sense that many people can realize the situation, by really using their brains. Anyway, I can dream and laugh upon the reality’s nightmare, doing what I do.

5. What else would you like to say?

A lot of things. Fortunately there still are many white walls.

“(…)si yo quisiera vender algo montaba una tienda.
Prefiero regalarte musica, aunque tu no la entiendas,
yo digo 50 malas palabras por segundo,
porque la verdad es que me gustaria cambiar este puto mundo”

Calle 13, by Ven y criticame

(loose English translation: if I wanted to sell something riding a store. I prefer to give you music, even if you do not understand, I say 50 bad words per second,because the truth is that I would like to change this fu**ing world”

Artist Background (from his Facebook Page): “Paulo Ito was born in São Paulo in 1978. His first series dates from 1999, and he started in street art in the following year, although it has begun to produce murals on the university campus where he graduated in fine arts in 1997. Ito worked with illustration in the early 2000s and has [been influenced by]comics, activity he developed in adolescence and resumed years ago. His latest painting series date of 2009, and after that period he just painted few commissioned canvases. Paulo’s production in streets went through several phases: the first was very experimental, in the second he painted female nudes and from 2009 until today he started painting themes related to social criticism and behavior. His solo shows happened in 2005 in the Oficina da Luz gallery, and in 2006 and 2008 in Grafiteria and Coletivo Galeria respectively. His panels and street interventions were performed in cities such as Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Lisbon, Barcelona, Berlin, Krakow, Rio de Janeiro, Fortaleza, Belo Horizonte and others, but most of his work are located in Sao Paulo. His panel depicting a hungry boy and the soccer ball on his plate recently gained worldwide recognition and was the subject of matter in various media from more than 20 countries, and being shared thousands of times on social media including by personalities.”

You can also follow Ito’s work on Instagram, Flickr, and twitter.


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5 Questions for the Artist, © Julia Travers

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