If you think street art consists out of nothing more than stencils with a witty punch-line, you should have a look at the works of Brazilian artist Narcélio Grud. His work varies from public sound interventions, sculptures and spray-can spirographs, to murals created with discarded materials like fruit or oil. Over the years Narcélio has shared some fantastic video's showing his experiments with various techniques.
"all the research I develop has a focus in common: the street as a site of action."
Though he comes from a graffiti background his work goes way beyond what we classify as traditional graffiti. All his work displays proper craftsmanship and it doesn't come as a surprise when Narcélio tells us these skills have been acquired at a young age. "As a child I hung out at my grandfather's workshop where he created various paraphernalia's and inventions. I believe he's one of the biggest influences I have besides some comics I used to read". Pretty soon Narcélio made sculptures with old mattresses and toys from old cans.
Besides his personal work, Narcélio also gets creative with his day job as scenographer, which enables him to experience many different materials and techniques: "The scenography demands a lot of my time, though it funds my artistic work. I feel that I'm gradually getting more time for my personal projects".
As mentioned, the works of Narcélio are immensely varied, which makes me wonder if he has any preferred medium to work with. "I like doing more than one thing at a time. My nature do not permit to stay long enough in only one activity. Each action has its charm and brings a different satisfaction. However all the research I develop has a focus in common: the street as a site of action." Narcélio explains.
Narcélio's Brazilian heritage seems like quite the influence in his work as well. For example, I assume the sound sculptures wouldn't be as actively played in the Netherlands as in the beautiful Brazilian city of Fortaleza. "The energy of the Brazilian people is very strong. We are the blending, a mixture of many things. Besides, the lack of resources forces us to be creative and to develop our work."
Most Brazilian street artists we've came in contact with were either from Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo. Narcélio hails from the city of Fortaleza which seems quite different from the two cities mentioned before.
"Fortaleza is a city on the rise. Much remains to be done here but good things are already happening. We've got great social inequality: Very rich people mixed with very poor people. We occupy a region in Brazil that is a bit discriminated against and exploited by the larger Brazilian cities. We have got a very rich popular culture though, which strongly influences urban artists from other regions of the country! We do need to improve the appreciation of local art and artists, but with some hard work and creativity you can live art"
That Narcélio keeps busy is evident when we ask him about his future plans. First of all he has an exhibition coming up. "There's no date or location yet, but I can tell you it will be related to sculptures, mirrors, lighting and peculiar objects and I'm really enjoying working on it".
Second, he is working on a book about the urban arts from North-Eastern Brazil which will be highlighting the work of the artists who live in the region. The book will be written in both English and Portuguese. Soon he will be traveling to promote the book along with an exhibition of serigraphs and pieces of artists that are part of the book.
And if that's not enough, he also organises last Novembers 'Concrete Festival', an international urban Art festival in Fortaleza, and already planning a second edition.
"Besides I intend to carry on with my research concerned to low-tech tools for urban art, sound sculptures, graffiti, etc. I hope to reach a maturity as an artist and person!"