Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday ProFile: Lelo

Graffiti was born in the US, but it matured and grew in Brazil. Over the past few years, the country’s scene has expanded upward and outward as more artists experiment with styles; Lelo is no exception. Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Lelo’s work spans from Brazil and Chile to Germany, Austria and Switzerland. However, he still has a soft spot for his hometown. “My favorite place to paint still is my hometown, Rio de Janeiro,” he says. “I know every place I want to paint and here it’s so relaxed to paint, people actually like when you are painting on the streets here.”
As a child, Lelo’s family encouraged his artistic endeavors. “I come from what you can call a ‘creative family,’” he explains. “My parents are architects. My father paints and draws a lot and so did my mother. Since I was a small kid, my parents would let me and my sister draw on the wall of our bedrooms. They always let us use their paint material, so art just came naturally into my life.”
Back in 2000, a steady diet of Jeff Easley, Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and Futura2000 helped mold and shape Lelo’s formative years. I’ve been painting and drawing literally my whole life,” he insists. “So when I went to painting on the streets, I just included a new media to my work. I am inspired by the stuff I see on the streets as well as stuff I see outside them.”
While cops, angry dogs, and other occupational hazards intimidate some artists, Lelo worried more about what others thought of his work. “It’s very visible, and I was always worried if what I was doing “was good enough”. Now I am way more confident about my work.” In the end, though, Lelo’s harsh criticism forced him to improve.

Part of the personal challenge lies in the spots Lelo chooses. “I really like to use the urban landscape as a canvas. It’s so interesting to integrate my work with the architecture. I’ve been to lots of hardcore places, like abandoned buildings and stuff like that. But the ones that really touch me are these places where there are lots of crackheads (crack is becoming a great problem around here). It makes me sad to see people like that.”

While these locations may seem undesirable, Lelo believes these spots just need a little beauty. “ I am not really sure what to expect from people who see my work,” he confesses. “I know some people don’t fully understand my work, but I just keep on doing it. It is something that comes straight from my heart.” With his first solo show in the US quickly approaching, Lelo’s ready to share his pieces with an entirely new audience. Although he appreciates gallery work, he doesn’t expect to leave the outdoors anytime soon. “Street art is my main form of expression,” he insists. “It’s me giving something I think the urban environment needs.”

Thanks, Lelo! For more photos, be sure to stop by his Flickr. Also, his solo show opens April 11 at Art Whino in Washington, DC. That’s all for now…I’m off to see Real Estate, catch up with my ladies, and perhaps even take the plunge on something I’ve been afraid to do for a while. I’ll let you know how it goes on Monday. Enjoy!


  1. Ju-ju-just great!! Big up Meg!! Thanks a lot!! :)

  2. yo lelo!!
    great work and great friend.