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Natural Awakenings New York City

Interview with Eduardo Kobra

Jan 27, 2015 06:18PM
Brazilian cover artist Eduardo Kobra takes his unique style to transform drab city walls into colorful kaleidoscopic scenes that delight, inspire and intrigue passersby. Many of Kobra’s larger-than-life photorealistic murals depict legendary figures and images, reinterpreting them in his signature geometric blocks of color.

The self-taught artist has used the streets as his canvas since age 12, when he joined a São Paulo graffiti crew to express his frustrations and creativity. Today an artistic legend in his own right, Kobra continues to innovate using recycled materials and techniques such as tromp l’oeil o n sidewalk paintings, where 3D figures appear to burst from the pavement.

Feb Cover

Kobra often does detailed research on the neighborhoods where he creates his nostalgic murals to generate historically accurate yet modernized depictions of bygone eras. His project “Memory Walls,” in his hometown, São Paulo, seeks to transform the urban landscape through art and rescue memories of the city.

The cover image is of a mural Kobra painted in Chelsea, recreating Alfred Eisenstaedt’s iconic 1945 photo of a couple kissing in Times Square on V-J Day.

Interview by Tina Woods

At what age did you start creating? How did it evolve into the large-scale creations you are now known for?

My drawings came primarily in common notebooks when I was about 10 years old, but my first contact with the street art came at age 12 when I learned that it was possible to pass these drawings from notebooks to walls. From that moment I never stopped painting city walls. I began with small drawings, stencils, or just writing my name, which was developed over the years to increasing murals. At first I was very influenced by NYC graffiti, but over time Mexican muralists, such as Diego Rivero and Siqueros, completely changed my view of public spaces and inspired me to make my own creations.

What medium do you generally work with and what draws you to work with vibrant colors in the spectrum?

My work is based on old pictures everywhere where I step. I research with scenes linked to the past of the place. My murals at the beginning were in black and white, because these images are in black and white usually, but in time I felt the need to color them and give my opinion, so I started to color the scenes. You can see an example of how this was done at the Highline if you pay attention to the bottom of the drawing where there is an image of Times Square in 1945, followed by the VJ-Day image on top. The wall freezes a moment in the history of the USA and the world.

Where does your creative inspiration come from and how do you choose your subject for each public artwork project?

I am collector of books and old photos, my inspiration comes from this universe, past architecture, clothes, cars, history… all this fascinates me. My murals aim to create portals for cities in the past, so those who lived at this time may have nostalgic moments and those who were not can know a little of the city. These murals also intend to awaken people to the importance of the preservation of historical heritage, which often in countries like Brazil is completely discarded.

Why did you choose the subject of VJ Day for New York City?

When I got to NYC, I was not sure what to make on this wall. Then, I started going to libraries to research images related to the past of the city. It was at this time that I came across this iconic image, so I decided to look for other scenes from the same time period and create this wall. I knew that this was without a doubt one of the most important moments of history.

View the artist’s portfolio at EduardoKobra.com.

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