Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Bel Borba Aqui: Public Art People Actually Like
la Vega wishes he were Bel Borba. Dubbed
“the people’s Picasso,” his street art has charmed the citizens of Salvador. Borba never really asks permission, per se,
but he sometimes fields requests. Burt
Sun & André Costanini document the artist at work on his sprawling canvas in
Bel Borba Aqui (trailer here), which opens this
Wednesday in New York at Film Forum.
is a familiar sight on the street of Bahia’s economically depressed capital
city. In fact, his street art has become
a source of civic pride. Stylistically,
he is not unlike a Haring, incorporating roughly similar looking figures into
his work. Yet, Borba is a particularly appealing
artist, because of his hands on approach, getting into the harnesses and cherry
pickers himself to paint entire walls of abandoned buildings. He is no Jeff Koons or Vik Muniz, largely
playing supervisory roles. Except for
the really large scale installations, his staff is only there to resupply him
with paint or tiles.
this is rather refreshing and Borba’s upbeat personality is also undeniably
engaging. At least for Sun and Costanini’s
cameras, he is a consistently unassuming but enthusiastic presence. He frankly admits
he is always reluctant to turn down a media request, because he still vividly
remembers how difficult it was to get press attention when during the early days
of his career. As a result, he is
obviously quite comfortable on-camera.
some of his individual pieces are a bit underwhelming when considered
discretely, they all seem to work quite well in dialogue with each other and
the city of Salvador. Yet, perhaps the
most pleasing aspect of Aqui is the
seductive soundtrack, featuring a host of Bahia recording artists, like Gilberto
While there is no real arc to Aqui, it is a satisfying experience to
watch his work take shape as his native sounds wash across the audience. Despite its leisurely pace, Aqui is an effective showcase for the
artist. Recommended for fans of Borba,
as well as Brazilian art and music in general, Bel Borba Aqui opens this Wednesday (10/3) at New York’s Film Forum.
Labels: Bel Borba, Documentary