Sao Paulo’s Theodoro Autops is something of an enigma. His monochromatic comic-style street art has large inflections of classic comics like Peanuts and Robert Crumb, although updated for a more contemporary audience with more modern ideals. There’s no dialogue, but they still tell a story, one poetically at odds with the urban environment that they most frequently appear in.
Most often told through his recurring ‘spray can’ figure, Autops’ clean and crisp comic style has been joined by many other humanesque characters that become a part of his insular world of urban storytelling. Coming up with graffiti, the Brazilian opted against pursuing this style of art, infatuated more by the character-driven works that he’d see in early animation and comics.
The creative licence of utilising characters over lettering means that the whole creative process and, obviously, the outcome, is very different from graffiti - a form of art that is still enjoying a thriving scene in his native land. Participating in the aggressive and angular lettering style of Pixacao - a graffiti style seen plastered in impossible locations all throughout Sao Paulo - Autops began gravitating back to his earliest love: drawing with pen and paper.
Just because he has largely moved away from these roots, doesn’t mean that the artist has turned his back on the underground. Rather than the illegal world of graffiti, the artist has opted to explore the subculture of underground comics, including those produced legally and illegally throughout the world, having peaks and troughs of popularity from the 1930s to the 50s and onwards.
Taking influence from the sociocultural climate of Brazil, as experienced and interacted with through his time painting Pixacao, Autops is also deeply influenced by Argentinian comic-strip artist Quino, whose own works were revered throughout Latin America for their stinging satirical commentary - always distilled into something simple and impactful, with an underlying sense of humour.
Simplicity is clearly a key facet of Autops’ conceptualisation process. His ideas are open to interpretation, yet they are also simple to deconstruct. This multiplicity of meaning offers rewards for effort. You could cycle past and appreciate the slightly surrealistic characters, yet you could spend a long time scrolling through his Instagram and try to piece together the context of each of his creations.
Graffiti in Brazil has always been different to the rest of the world. Both through the country's vast population, vibrant way of living and multitude of competing, contrasting, conflicting and coalescing cultures, Brazil has naturally provoked artists to build up strong portfolios of work as a means of differentiating themselves and, in the vein of Pixacao, of being heard. Autops’ output is no different. His approach is novel, recognisable and, in the future, no doubt destined to be mentioned in the same breath as some of his own influences. Such is the cycle of art and Autops' place in it.
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