Rio de Janeiro’s port area was a magnet for thousands of art lovers from Sept. 9 to 13, but while the international fair ArtRio drew elite galleries and collectors, the lesser-known ArtRua was a delight for urban art aficionados.
Both events were launched in 2011; ArtRua (“rua” is Portuguese for street) started out as an urban art festival, later evolving into a street art fair and marketplace. The event’s fifth edition was curated by Cristiano Kana, one of the partners in São Paulo’s A7MA gallery, who ensured that visitors to the Ação da Cidadania cultural center were greeted by seven huge panels by top São Paulo street artists such as Onesto, Tinho Nomura, Zeh Palito and Titi Freak.
“All the panels are focused on the city of São Paulo, what it means to the world and what’s unique about it,” Kana said. For his part, ArtRua founder André Bretas said the focus on São Paulo was overdue as a way to honor “the city that projected Brazil on the international urban art scene.” Galleries participating in the fair included São Paulo’s Ponder70 and Verve, Belo Horizonte’s Quarto Amado, Pernambuco’s Nuvem, and Rio’s own Huma Art Projects, Casa7 and Galeria 1500 Babilônia.
But there was also action outside the cultural center, where artists including France’s Brusk and Portugal’s Pantonio, fresh off of their exploits on Paris’ Pont des Arts, painted murals intended to be permanent. According to Kana, the idea is to turn Rio’s port area into a street art tourism mecca — a sort of Brazilian response to Miami’s Wynwood Walls.