“Most of the artists here are self-taught and they come from the periferia [São Paulo’s poorer suburban neighborhoods]. We’re on the vanguard of street art because we’re so diverse, we improvise and we create so many new things”, he explained.
“There’s nowhere better than São Paulo”, Kobra enthused. “It’s this ‘grey city’ with an infinite number of possibilities to create things.”
Born in the poor southern neighborhood of Campo Limpo, Kobra learned about graffiti in the early 1980s through his love of hip-hop and by watching movies about New York. He spent his childhood scrawling his name on the walls of his neighborhood and school (“when they found out it was me, I got expelled”) before transitioning into extravagant and attractive murals and designs.
Today, Kobra’s work can be found all across Brazil and five different continents, and he is constantly receiving invitations to create pieces in the farthest-flung corners of the world.
“It’s all still very new to me. I never even expected to leave the neighborhood I grew up in”, he laughed.
Kobra’s most famous piece to date is Etnias, a massive mural painted to commemorate the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Fifty-one feet high and 560 feet long, it set the Guinness World Record for the largest spray paint mural, a record which Kobra himself broke earlier this year with a huge piece to the north of São Paulo, almost twice the size of Etnias.