XXL: Riot of Colours in Rio

By Jo Phillips

This week .Cent turns the spotlight on The Favela Painting Project in Rio De Janeiro, which caught our attention with its technicolour XXL canvas.

Vila Cruzeiro before HIRES
Vila Cruzeiro before.

In 2005, Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn were at work, filming a documentary on hip-hop slums in Sao Paulo and Rio. One day, they stood staring at the rolling hills, covered with brick houses in Rio de Janeiro. They pondered over how much the local youth inspired them and the intense visual impact the favelas had on the face of the city. Jeroen and Dre then came up with the idea to make an immense painting on a favela. But first, they had to wrap up their work. Back in the Netherlands, while editing the film, the idea grew in their minds and the duo decided to have a go at it.

Sketch HIRES
Sketch

After months of arduous labour and a kaleidoscope of colourful brush strokes, their canvas – made of bricks – in Santa Marta was transformed into an artistic abstraction in rich, optimistic technicolour hues. The rest, as the world says, is history. In this case, quite a colourful, eye-popping one. The art project made news and the duo have since been invited to discuss potential projects in Mexico, Haiti and China.

.Cent talks to the Haas & Hahn team about their brush with creativity.

Future Cruzeiro Color Study HIRES
Future Cruzeiro Color Study

.Cent: Why did you choose a favella to start with?
Haas & Hahn: What is really great but also very challenging about a project like this is the immense growth of possibilities it brings along. What seemed like a fun idea, has grown into a movement that involves many people in Rio. At the same time, it became a subject of academic interest. It involves art, politics, social studies, urban development and so on. And every answer seems to bring along new questions and new challenges.

.Cent: What inspired the technicolour-candy like theme?
Haas & Hahn: If we wanted to create larger artworks and be able to involve more people we needed simpler, more flexible design strategies. With this in mind, Jeroen conceived the more abstract style with colourful rays used for the Santa Marta project. He figures out the colour palette out of the most common colours of the area.

Haas&Hahn portrait panorama HIRES
Haas & Hahn Portrait panorama.

.Cent: Where do you draw inspiration from?
Haas & Hahn: Project-wise we are both driven by the do-it-yourself, don’t-take-no-for-an-answer and larger-than-life attitudes of the early hip-hop generation.

.Cent: How has this changed the outlook of the community?
Haas & Hahn: Many times people stop by and give us their personal comments and they can be very different, but always inspiring. If someone tells you the painted buildings just for a second made them forget their problems and put a smile on their face, it makes the whole project worthwhile.

To read more about their project, log onto their website: favelapainting.com

Images credited to Favela Painting Project.