FIFA fever is running wild in New York and it seems like every brand is out there trying to get in on the action. Everyday there's another event popping off or a new collabo dropping to celebrate the World Cup.
Nike, however, seems to be going above and beyond the call of duty by flying in SPETO, one of São Paulo's original graffiti pioneers, to paint an installation at their 21 Mercer spot. The AKANYC and 12ozProphet Crew were already down with SPETO through our Boys in Brasil OS GEMEOS, so when the opportunity arose to go see him do his thing right here in lower Manhattan... we grabbed the video camera and jumped in the gypsy cab.
Now, you gotta understand that while I am a practitioner and a proponent of traditional New York style graffiti writing, I don't necessarily think that the whole world should be doing it. Quite the opposite, in fact, I think it is too often contrived and forced looking. "Mannerism" as my boy ARSON WKS would call it. It's as if I were attempting to work in the style of the turn of the century Russian Avant-Garde, or imitating Aboriginal Australian Bark Painting; I have no direct connection to these movements which are specific to a time and place. So, I‘m always impressed when I see graffiti writers in other areas develop their own styles and tap into their own history for inspiration.
SPETO, like most of the world, caught the B-Boy Boogaloo Flu after watching films like Beat Street in the mid 80's... but he didn't stay stuck in 1985 for long. He embraced the traditional northeast Brazilian technique of rustic wood engraving known as Xilogravura, studying the craft and integrating its aesthetic into his already formidable style to come out with something totally original. He uses a sharp edged "cut-back" technique with spray paint that gives it the look of a block-print... the end result is pure Brasil; wide-eyed folksy fun that's right at home on the roughest favela block.
For his piece at the 21 Mercer NSW boutique, SPETO worked in black and gold with touches of green, homage to his National Futebal heroes. Of course, the minute the match with N. Korea was scheduled to begin, all painting ceased and we ran around the block to the nearest bar to watch along with the throngs of cheering Brazilians rooting for the home-boys. I mean, art is wonderful and all, but one has to have their priorities straight...
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