Art is everywhere on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from the gritty favelas to glitzy neighborhoods and government buildings to residential apartments. But street art here is no amateur work — it is bold, artistic, and expressive, and anything but graffiti. Paintings of electronic robots are found on door shutters and gates, while drawings of cigar-adorning Afro-Brazilian men splash across colonial buildings.
Just like anywhere in the world, Rio’s street art is a form of expression and often has an underlying message of political and societal context. While not all street art is easily comprehensible, it almost always makes you stop and think.
Freedom of Expression
Rio’s urban artists didn’t always have this much freedom of expression. Street art only began to be taken seriously when the Brazilian government legalized street art in March 2009. Only then did Rio’s artists take to the streets to sculpt the urban landscape. Their art has now blended immaculately into the architecture of the city, forming an important part of the culture in Rio.
While exploring Rio de Janeiro in search of street art, I found Lapa to be one of the most interesting areas in the city, with gorgeous wall paintings and mosaic artwork. It may be a little gritty and scruffy, but there’s an undercurrent of bohemian and artistic vibes that epitomizes the character of Rio. Here are some of my favorite street art in Lapa – I hope they give you a glimpse into the urban landscape of Rio:
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