Pop art from the streets of São Paulo

The walls of LKB/G are covered with stencils, paintings, used templates and posters that would not look amiss on the streets of São Paulo. Pop art ladies in vibrant colours fill the room.

It’s the opening night of Rouge: Daniel Melim’s first-ever solo exhibition in Europe. One of Brazil’s most renowned street artists, Daniel seems like a quiet soul, as if he’d rather let his art speak for him. And it does: his Mural da Luz was chosen as the most iconic mural in São Paulo. As the first admirers trickle into LKB/G, I find a moment to chat with Daniel — about women, AD/DC albums and street art.

Text: Irene Broer Photography: Teresa Enhiak Nanni

Daniel, congrats on your exhibition!
Thanks, I’m very happy!

Why is the exhibition named “Rouge?”
As you can see, I work a lot with the colour red, so that’s one obvious reason. But red also represents femininity: it radiates warmth, emotion and strength. My art deals with women — their position in society, stereotypes and clichés – so the colour red fits to this exhibition perfectly.

I see. What inspired you to focus on women?
In Brazil, we have a rather male-dominated society. Men tend to see women only as beautiful and that’s it. I find that problematic, so instead of showing women like that, I portray women in a pop art style that emphasises their emotions and feelings.

Hmm … But aren’t you eroticizing women’s emotions then?
No, absolutely not. I try to do the opposite by showing women’s feelings rather than their beauty.

Do you think a German audience responds differently to your art than a Brazilian one?
Actually I don’t think so. I think stereotypes and clichés regarding women are pretty universal.

I like that the exhibition has a real street art vibe, even though it’s inside.
That’s what I really love about this exhibition at LKB/G: I could think about the entire space and how to present my art. One wall is dedicated to street art, so that you can see the contrast between my outside and inside work: rough and chaotic versus organised. It’s really important to me that I can show the variety of techniques that I use: graffiti, stencils, collage and painting of course.

Can we expect some of your art to appear on the streets of Hamburg?
Haha, probably not this trip because we don’t have so much time! Next time.

Have you seen some street art in Hamburg?
Yep! We had a walk around Sternschanze and the harbour area — we saw some cool stuff. It’s interesting that graffiti has a different style here. Especially the tagging.

Explain!
Well, in São Paulo we have a specific style of tagging, it’s called pichação. You can see it on the streets but also in weird places — the facades of very high buildings for example. The letters are jagged and usually black, whereas here letters are round and colourful.

I had no idea, interesting!
You know, it was originally inspired by heavy metal from the UK and the US, which became hugely popular in Brazil in the 1980s. Have you ever seen the album covers of Iron Maiden or AC/DC? That style of typography inspired the pichadores in São Paulo.

So, now that your exhibition has officially been opened, how do you feel?
I’m super happy and I just hope that a lot of people come to see my art and interact with it in some way.

Cool! Thanks for your time, and good luck, Daniel!


Curious to see Daniel Melim’s art for yourself? The “Rouge” exhibition is on until 24 February at LKB/G, Wexstraße 28 in Hamburg.

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