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Finok's Indigenous Artworks

Words:

Compulsive Contents
April 8, 2019

The street art of Finok is playful, using earthy tones which aid him in showing an affinity with and paying homage to his Brazilian homeland.

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Beginning his artist life with graffiti, this always remains at the core of what he does. His works often take form of murals, a style that has a rich heritage and tradition in Central and South America.


The use of tribal figures and masks permeates his work, making them look like something more anciently conceived than they actually are. Born in 1985 he began painting at age 15 and as was custom back then, chose a colour that would lead his palette - green.

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The large-scale murals are often as poignant as they are because of where they are. They feature ancient people in environments that they normally wouldn't be associated - it's as if he is remembering the place that they once called home, they are now just ghosts moving through our urban environment.


It's hard to comprehend the power of seeing the faces of indigenous people being painted on trains, walls next to busy roads and even inside public transport. The faintness of their colours alludes to their fading existence, their importance as part of our contemporary society being in question.


They are the people that we are all willing to forget. They are the people that Finok will not allow us to forget.

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Faces of peasants seem to be frozen in time, displaying an emotional detachment, just like the family photographs of old. These faces look sad although the don't show it, they seem helplessly afloat in a gentrifying environment that is well beyond their control. Photographs are memories - these paintings are also memories. Memories then, through their photographic existence, carry a certain romanticism that is invaluable in urban art, and rarely seen.


His portrayal of Brazilian folk culture is not only aesthetically pleasing, but culturally significant. The images are still, they seem to lack any semblance of motion. However, they all seem to have a rich narrative behind them - just like the old woodcarvings and lithographic techniques that preceded them.


That they exist in São Paulo, the street art capital of Brazil - a tough, gritty and unforgiving metropolis, makes their message of displacement, their inherent feeling of saudade and their visual connotation of 'lostness' transmit an aura of profound melancholy. They are hopeless figures, forever erased, remembered only through these optical elegies.


His paintings exist in a universe of folk religion and ritual - they are a part of their own community that time forgot. Finok is the great redeemer, the great reminder - he's the artist who makes sure that we see what came before us, that we don't continue our trend of wiping out everything that stands in the way of capitalistic and hubristic growth with no mind being paid to the human's that built the land.

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