I came across Nunca (Never) when researching the Tate Museum as his work has been displayed in there previously. I thought his street-art works were exceptional. Nunca started writing graffiti and pichação (a uniquely Brazilian form of tagging) on the streets of São Paulo when he was twelve. Over the years, his work developed into a more pictorial form of communication whose use of colour and style strongly evokes the ancient traditions of the Brazilian people, which is one of the reasons why I appreciate his work so much – it has meaning behind it and links in with his cultural background.
‘I like to look more to indigenous art, because for me the Brazilians still have something of the Indians, in the culture, in the blood.’
Nunca’s works are often improvises, and he’s pieces reflect what he sees as the inner character of the Brazilian people fighting for survival in the modern metropolis. Though made with spray paint or acrylic, they often have the look of ancient woodcuts or etchings.
‘This was the first way of depicting people when the conquerors came here,’ he explains.
His use of dark red ochre similarly relates to the urucum (a red pigment) used by some Brazilian tribespeople to paint their faces and bodies in ritual.