Graffiti has become so ubiquitous and commercially harnessed that if, walking through central London, you encounter hooded youths with spray cans in their hands, they are as likely to be creating graphics for a brand wanting to seem edgy, as engaged in some illegal tagging. And like so many things, Graffiti is not immune to the effects of globalisation. It can often – with some obvious exceptions – show signs of having been standardised and colonised by the visual language of the US. But the street art of Rio de Janeiro and São Paolo is different, and its true originality and freshness is documented in Graffiti Brasil, a book lovingly compiled by Tristan Manco, Caleb Neelson and the duo known as Lost Art. As well as the famous work of the São Paolo twin brothers, Os Gemos, they have included the abstract sewer paintings of Zezão (intended to ‘send good vibrations to all kinds of people, especially the poor and homeless’), illustrator and yo-yo champion Titifreak’s spooky wall dawbs, that look like shadows of gunmen or dogs, and lots of less well-known, but equally interesting, work. But whether a compilation such as this sanctifies the work as art is another matter.Graffiti Brasil is published by Thames & Hudson, priced £9.95
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