Days before the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the first world record attempt will be made in the city – but it won’t be on the running track or in the swimming pool. It will be on a huge wall in the city’s formerly run-down port area, which has been rejuvenated ahead of the Games.
Brazilian graffiti artist Eduardo Kobra is attempting a Guinness World Record for the largest mural created by one artist.Setting what could be a new global benchmark with his spray cans and kaleidoscopic colours, Kobra is welcoming the world to Rio de Janeiro with a 190-metre-long artwork. At 15.5 metres tall, the massive work of art is nearly 3,000 square metres in size (2,945 sq m) and could be recognised as the largest of its kind in the world. “I was really happy I got to display my work here in Rio de Janeiro,” said the 40-year-old muralist from São Paulo. “This was something I have wanted to do for a long time.”
Kobra is also one of 13 artists who designed an official Olympic poster for the Rio 2016 Games.
The mural ‘Ethnicities’, or Etnias as it’s titled in Portuguese, was unveiled on July 30.About 100 gallons of white paint, 1,500 litres of coloured paint and at least 3,500 cans of spray paint were used to complete Kobra’s composition, which shows the faces of five indigenous people from distinct nations on five continents.The muralist and a team of four guest artists have been at work at least 12 hours a day for the past two months, painting the exterior wall of a two-storey, cinder-block warehouse near the port where an extensive revitalisation is underway in the city centre.
The street where the mural is being created will be part of the Olympic Boulevard, a huge ‘live site’ stretching about three kilometres and offering Olympic coverage on big screens, three stages with live music, street art performances, nightly firework displays, food trucks and activities for kids.
The centre-piece of the revitalised region is Praça Mauá, which hosts spaceship-like Museu do Amanhã (Museum of Tomorrow) in what has become an expansive, waterfront square, accessible by a new tram system, known as the VLT is Portuguese.
The artist said he went to great lengths to accurately and respectfully represent indigenous people in his work. “The five characters represent the five continents – the concept was based on the five Olympic Rings,” said Kobra in a phone interview in Portuguese. “These are the indigenous people of the world. The idea behind it is that we are all one. “This is the first time I have worked with ethnic people. We’ve all got the same origins so we have to get along, not only during the Olympic Games but always. We should always stand for world peace.”
If Kobra is accepted by the Guinness Book of Records, his Ethnicities will nearly double the size of the current record-holding entry by Mexican artist Ernesto Rocha, whose Mazatlan mural completed in 2009measures 1,678 square metres.
“I’m motivated by challenges,” said Kobra. “This building was totally abandoned. My team had to paint it all white and even recover some parts of it. This was a collaboration. We ended up spending more than we got commissioned for. This wasn’t about money, we really wanted to do this.”