One of Brazilian street art’s most prominent names, Alex Hornesto, aka Onesto, has created an intriguing visual lexicon, characters that are instantly identifiable, immediately his. Like the country’s most famous artistic export Os Gemeos, whose surreal yellow figures are globally recognisable, so too are Onesto’s slightly more surreal apricot-hued on their way to becoming.
Hailing from Sao Paulo, Brazil’s megacity and artistic mecca, Onesto has been around for a while, honing his voice in a city where it’s very easy to become drowned out. Both introspective and playful, his murals and figures can be read as a reaction to their environment, a part of the urban landscape negotiating a space for their own existence.
His choice of colour is interesting. Although many of his pieces are monochromatic, when there is colour, you can be sure it’s an apricot-tinged orange. Why? It’s hard to say, but easy to imagine that he takes solace in the colour precisely because of its strangeness. Yes, it occurs in nature, but certainly not in urban areas, particularly the monolithic concrete streets of his hometown.
Also working in sculpture, the artist wishes for the two to combine as both supplement and contrast to the other. Lyrically imaginative, there’s a sense of pacificity in his paintings and sculptural work. Onesto is interested in pulling us from the monotony of daily life, from the frazzling effects of the blue-light emanating from our phone screens, to interact with the world around us, living out an idealistic sense of awe as per our childhood dalliances
Onesto believes that art cannot exist independent of the spectator, nor can one truly exist without the insertion of art in our lives. It’s a powerful concept and one that runs thematically consistent with his idea of art as an exchange of energies - untapped childlike awe within us and a hibernating beauty of the urban environment contained within the walls of neighbourhoods. Each has their own story to tell.
In many ways, Onesto’s figures are facilitators of this exchange. They’re fantastical characters that bridge the gap between the chaos of city life and the projected order that individuals innately desire. A salve for the streets, Onesto’s work is both a remedy for the soul and an invitation to dream.
Fully improvised, Onesto eschews sketches in favour of creating more holistically with what’s around him. Painting is a cathartic experience for the Brazilian. He takes the energy from the inherent rhythms of the street, constantly and painstakingly recording what’s happening around him in a sketchbook (although he doesn’t use this to work from) with times and dates. A sort of catalogue from which to track and trace his memories.
His works are a study of life. His own, the people he sees, the people he knows and the very streets that they all share without any knowledge of the other. They're a part of Brazil's street art lexicon, up there with the best.
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