As one of the founding members of Portugal’s Germes Gang, Tiago Evangelista is one of the old heads of his country’s graffiti scene, an artist whose crude depictions ebb and flow between pure graffiti and folk art.
You might recognise his works from urban centres around the country, although his place of birth is the distinctly un-urban central northern city of Viseu, a quiet and scenic place of a typically Portuguese flavour.
It isn’t Portugal that we see in his works though, but an American capitalist vision, filled with icons of brand and culture. This culture-clash can be evidenced in his own journey through the world of art, where an education painting walls coalesced with a degree in fine art from Caldas da Rainha.
Evangelista’s artistic works are the sort of crudely drawn sketches that have found themselves on tote bags and on the tattooed arms of art school students over the last few years, a sort of satirical and intentionally crude homage to icons of popular contemporary culture.
Germes Gang have made this their visual go-to over their vast time as one of Portugal’s most influential and interesting graffiti crews. The works they produce, whether on walls or in print, are a pastiche of the over-accentuated American visual culture that is broadcast globally with an un-ironic sense of cultural superiority.
In many ways, it’s almost as if Evangelista and the rest of Germes Gang are re-appropriating the advertising and ideology shoved down their throats, giving it a more palatable and naive twist, like they’re taking a brand's image and saying ‘there, that’s better’.
Utilising a plethora of powerful imagery, from popstars, to motor racing, Evangelista is making the kind of art that speaks volumes to a savvy audience who can see through the shiny shtick of glossy American branding and who are looking for something real, something to feel and, ultimately, for a new culture that speaks to them, not for them.
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