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The Rise of AKACORLEONE

Words:

Edd Norval

Photos:

Midnight Madness Crew and Nash Does Work
September 22, 2021

AKACORLEONE has been one of the most innovative urban artists working in Portugal for some time. Recently, though, he has started developing work in mediums well beyond the early murals that were once dotted throughout Lisbon and its surrounds - articulating a statement of intent for his future.

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At the 2020 special edition of Festival Iminente, AKACORLEONE created a magnificent stained glass window bathing the attendees in various colours of light as they gathered awestruck in the atmospheric setting of Panorâmico de Monsanto’s iconic winding staircase. Only one year prior, in 2019, he built an experimental bas relief depicting the ‘four elements of hip-hop’.  


The window wasn't simply beautiful to look at, but came with a serious statement about gender equality, a project that was further embraced by the artist on his social media as he held the perceived hypocrisy of nudity online to accounts. 


AKACORLEONE’s art has always been deeply narrative-led. Like Picasso’s momentous ‘Guernica’, the paintings capture a multiplicity of events all at the same time, playing out like a storyboard or comic book scene, albeit vastly more thematically complex. 

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His ability to tell a story has most recently been tapped into by Nike, when they built a campaign around the story of Cristiano Ronaldo and a goal, as both literal goalpost and psychological target. Wrapped around the goalposts of a new pitch in the Funchal community of Madeira is the artist’s work, detailing 15 key moments in the emergence of CR7 in his recognisable style.


It felt like a project tailor made for Pedro Campiche aka AKACORLEONE, whose entire back catalogue features richly realised interpretations of various social and cultural cornerstones. Utilising a broad array of symbolism, the artist has been able to tell these stories with a unique voice, as influenced by the imagery of crime, street culture and secret societies, Campiche has blended his vast knowledge of global symbols and interest in storytelling to build pieces that are at their best when given ample time to decode.


Just as the unique iconography of Russian prison tattoos tell the story of the character wearing them, AKACORLEONE constructs his stories in this way, utilising bold colours that are able to contrast and merge together, adding entirely new layers to interpret, giving the audience freedom to explore various meanings of hitherto established symbols. When we spoke to the artist in 2018, his ambition to explore was clear, having already begun to expand his art into the realm of sculpture.

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Now in 2021, his trajectory has superseded initial projections, pushed forward by a genuine connection and belief in his art, alongside a sense of never being fully satisfied - always on the lookout for the next big opportunity. As reason stands, if the Portuguese artist is able to continue capitalising on each of these moments, there is no limit to what could come next.

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