The famous Brazilian muralist Eduardo Kobra has not stopped his artistic production despite the pandemic. Although his natural space is the street and the great walls that he turns into masterpieces, the confinement has fed his inspiration and pushed him to explore new creative fields.
Kobra says he found new reasons to develop his mind by staying home. “My work is on the street. I am a painter who depends on the street. I paint murals. So all this has been a big change for me,” he said in a recent interview with AFP.
From his confinement, Eduardo Kobra has painted a mini-mural called “Coexistence” in which he shows five children from the five continents praying behind face masks printed with the symbols of five of the main world religions: Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism.
Kobra dreams of painting a large-scale version somewhere in the world when the pandemic is under control. It has also developed in these months several initiatives to help the homeless by auctioning small reproductions of his murals.
Street Art that talks about sport, culture and religion
In September 2019 Kobra worked on a mural dedicated to the F-1 pilot Ayrton Senna (1960-1994) at the Italian circuit of Ímola, which evokes the tragedy that claimed the life of the three-time Formula 1 champion. The panel is 21 meters long and 7 high and was painted on the facade of the Checco Costa Museum of the famous Italian circuit.
It is a very different theme from the one that developed in New Orleans also during the summer of 2019, when the pandemic was not even a dystopian suspicion. He immortalized the great Louis Armstrong, one of the greatest legends in jazz history and son of the city that bathes the Mississippi. The Kobra mural was created precisely to commemorate Armstrong in the neighborhood where jazz emerged and flourished.
KOBRA PAINTS THE 9/11 VICTIMS
Kobra presented in September 2018 his tribute to the firefighters of New York, within the context of the 17th anniversary of the September 11th attacks.
The piece entitled “The Braves of 9/11”, located at the intersection of 150th and 49th Street in New York, shows a firefighter crouching and bowing his head with a helmet and an ax facing the American flag.
The piece is part of a more ambitious project integrated by 28 other murals spread throughout the city. It represents a global milestone in “street art“.
This “complex project”, in his own words, which took three years to complete, is aimed at showing the essence of his work as a muralist and his worldview on issues, such as immigration and refugees, as well as the history of the city, which the artist sees as “the capital of the world”.
KOBRA, A WORLD-SIZED GRAFFITI ARTIST
The mural “Ethnicities, Unity among Peoples and Peace” is 7.22 meters high by 27 meters wide, which, according to Kobra’s standards, is considered to be moderate in size.
It is a new vision of the most marginalized layers of Brazilian society, which is a constant feature throughout Kobra’s work, full of social commitment and political messages.
Throughout his 30-year career, Eduardo Kobra has stirred the spirit of Brazilian society by addressing a wide range of “sensitive” themes in his artwork, including racism, prejudice, peace, migration and the situation of refugees.
KOBRA AND THE INDIGENOUS CLAIM
The prolific Brazilian graffiti artist Eduardo Kobra became world-famous during the Olympic Games celebrated in his country in 2016.
He created a large mural in Rio de Janeiro that became one of the great icons of the city and of the sporting event itself. The Guinness Book of Records considered it the largest graffiti in the world.
But in 2017 he beat his own record by painting a graffiti on an area of almost 6,000 square meters, on several facades of a chocolate factory in Sao Paulo. Since that huge wall was not enough, he decided to also use the other walls of the building.
The graffiti represents a young Amazon native rowing a cocoa-laden canoe, in the middle of a river of chocolate. Once again he gained favor with the Guiness Book of Records.
“Even if people drive past it on the highway at 100 kilometers per hour, they can identify the message”, he said. “It’s the biggest mural I’ve ever painted. It is a tribute to all the people who work with cacao and their close relationship with the Amazon Forest”, he added.
The art world, however, has other demands when buildings are used instead of canvases. When the chocolate company Cacau Show placed the order, Kobra prepared a dozen sketches, all based on scenes from the Amazonian regions rich in cocoa.
EDUARDO KOBRA AND HIS VIEW OF GANDHI AND THERESA OF CALCUTA
Although he has taken his work to walls, façades and murals around half the world, Kobra has focused in recent years on redecorating the urban landscapes of New York with icons of music and human rights.
After painting a mural las Summer dedicated to Michael Jackson in the East Village of the Big Apple, Kobra created a 3-story image representing the opposing facial profiles of Mother Theresa and Mahatma Gandhi, in a tribute to their peace role in the world, according to its author.
Gandhi and Mother Theresa are just some of the personalities of history and pop culture that Kobra has immortalized in murals all over the world.
GRAFFITIS FOR THE KINGS OF POP: JACKSON AND BOWIE
The list includes Anne Frank, Tupac, Neil Armstrong, Nelson Mandela, Bob Dylan and Yoda. Even though he has created projects from Mumbai and Malawi to Moscow and Minneapolis, the New York City area has always been one of his favorite places to work.
Kobra used the prominent graffiti of Michael Jackson that include two images of MJ as a child and as an adult, bright colors and bold lines, but he remained faithful to the kaleidoscope concept which is customary in all his artwork.
“The technique of repeating squares and triangles allows him to give life to the famous characters he represents in his images,” as indicated in his website.
His love for pop and rock culture has been featured in many ways. One of his most famous murals is the one that brings together some of music’s biggest stars now departed: Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain who share the same space in one of the most beautiful tributes dedicated to these music giants in the celestial realm.
Last year he did a monumental mural in a large apartment building in Jersey City, celebrating the late David Bowie in his character as Ziggy Stardust.
The Kobra phenomenon is unstoppable. Earlier this year, a photograph of the mural that the artist painted in 2017 in the building housing the Puertas de Castilla Cultural Center in Murcia, Spain was published on Instagram and in less than 16 hours, it had already obtained more than 435,000 Likes.
The mural is entitled ‘Face of Salvador Dalí’, and he used 250 cans of spray and 60 liters of paint, together with a group of local artists and urban art fans.
Eduardo Kobra was born in 1976 in the region of Campo Limpo, on the outskirts of Sao Paulo. He grew up immersed in the urban culture of the city. He has become a world-known street art figure for his colorful murals in more than 40 cities, from Los Angeles to Moscow. Kobra’s approach is based on the skateboard, breakdance and hip hop culture, which were part of his everyday life.