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Skola - At Its Essence

Words:

Edd Norval

Photos:

IG: @_skola
May 18, 2022

Graffiti, at its essence, is about experimentation. None of the most memorable graffiti artists have lacked the drive to pioneer. It’s what makes them transcend temporal bounds. They play with form, composition, scale, location, whilst sticking to certain unwritten rules. Skola, hailing from Sao Paulo, has never lost that desire to try something new, whilst never forsaking his roots. At a time when classic graffiti feels like it's disappearing in favour of ‘urban art’, he is keeping the flame burning.

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At its heart, graffiti is an art form about communication and Skola knows how to do that best. Clean. Crisp. Direct. His pieces are usually monochrome - black and silver - and have been for some time. Indebted to urban culture, graffiti from New York, his native Brazil and the other global hotspots, Skola’s work retains a purity of form and a philosophy that is slowly becoming eroded.


His continued prevalence as an authentic graffiti writer is due in large part to his Brazilian nationality. Graffiti is viewed differently there. People don’t mind it. It doesn’t carry the same ‘vandalism’ tag that it does in other parts of the world. Even the most simple throw ups can be publicly appreciated. It’ll always have a transgressive dimension, something Skola still embraces, but the beauty standards are undoubtedly measured in other ways. The Polícia might not agree though.

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Brazil also pushes the artists to innovate. Sao Paulo is huge. There’s over 12 million people. It’s dense, vibrant, dangerous, and compelling. The graffiti that catches people’s attention has to mimic its environment. Skola has been on the scene for a while, but he’s never rested on his laurels - allowing the rise of digital communication to broaden his audience beyond his locality through his impressive social media.


Despite its slightly more mainstream position in Brazilian society, due in large part to the sheer scale of its prevalence, graffiti is still a very politically charged medium, inherently anti-establishment and, particularly in the majority urban metropolis’ of Brazil, a form of protest - a voice to those who would otherwise go completely overlooked. Regimes might change, but very little else does in Brazil.

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Enthused with the process of learning and improving, the artist doesn’t look for recognition, it comes with the territory. He also has no interest in trends, but sees the transcendent value that well executed graffiti has. If you look at much of his work, despite having many innovative and interesting features, it could easily stand next to some of the old school classics from the 70s and 80s.


Evolution and pioneering are different from following trends - the former often means setting them. The latter - those who follow - quickly out themselves as casuals. Just another writer with nothing to say. Skola remains unchanged. Stoic in his determination to embody and communicate the value of old school graffiti amidst a sea of faddy street art. This refusal to sell out, to cash in on his name, is to be commended in a world where it would be so easy to do so.

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