Boston glimpsed the power of Brazilian street art when a 70-foot-by-70 foot mural of a boy in pajamas showed up in Dewey Square in 2012. Some were shocked (it depicts a terrorist!), some were awed (the colors!), but all then knew of the twin Brazilian graffiti artists Os Gemeos.
But that was just a glimpse. In Brazil, street artists have embraced a new gift from Rio de Janeiro mayor Eduardo Paes: the full legalization of graffiti on specified city property. The resulting paintings, many of which depict a city torn between its love for soccer and anger over money spent hosting the World Cup, are stunning.
Could Boston’s street artists, given a similar opportunity, create that strong a testament to the human spirit here? There’s only one way to find out.
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World Cup-related graffiti in Sao Paulo. Brazil has won five World Cups, more than any other nation.
Children stand in front of a graffiti-covered wall at the Jacarezinho slum in Rio de Janeiro. The photo was taken during a protest against conditions in Rio’s slums. Participants called on the Brazilian government to bring education, health and public services up to the same standards as the 2014 World Cup stadiums.
A wall in Rio de Janeiro is decorated with a mural depicting Brazilian soccer player Hulk. Teams from 32 nations will compete in the upcoming World Cup, with Sao Paulo hosting the opening ceremony and kick-off match between Brazil and Croatia on June 12.
Brazilian artist Jambeiro paints graffiti in reference to the 2014 World Cup in Rio de Janeiro.
A boy prepares to fly a kite next to graffiti, by Brazilian artist Cranio, depicting an indigenous man, in reference to the 2014 World Cup, in Sao Paulo.
A man walks in Rio de Janeiro behind an image depicting Brazilian soccer player Neymar and a phantom representing the Uruguayan soccer team, which won the 1950 World Cup.
A woman in Rio de Janeiro walks past graffiti about the 2014 World Cup.
A painting adorns a building in the Vila Flavia slum of Sao Paulo May 28. The art is by members of OPNI, whose Portuguese acronym stands for "Unidentified Graffiti Artists.” The group was formed in 1997 as a means of transforming the streets in the slums into an open-air gallery where the group could express their gripes while also denouncing what they perceive as social injustice. Graffiti artists in Sao Paulo are using their art to criticize what they view as gross overspending in preparation for this year's World Cup in Brazil.