Rio de Janeiro is not only about paradise beaches and samba goddesses. It is also a city where street art is celebrated, and by walking 560 feet along Rio’s waterfront, you can appreciate the largest mural graffiti in world, a Guinness World Record accomplishment and a legacy of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
The work depicts a Tajapo boy from Brazil, a Mursi woman from Ethiopia, a Kayin woman from Thailand, a Supi man from Northern Europe, and a Huli man from Papua New Guinea. They represent humanity’s common ancestors, the indigenous people from America, Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania.
Eduardo Kobra, a world-renowned Brazilian graffiti artist, studied the features of people from five continents that represent the black, blue, green, red, and gold rings on the Olympic flag. Etnias (or Ethnicities), or as it was originally named by the artist Todos Somos Um (We Are One), is a visual feast for street art lovers and a way to celebrate the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, the first and only time the event was hosted in South America.
As he carries the core values of the Olympic Games, the artist’s intention was to show that everyone is connected, We Are One. Kobra’s work makes us feel his characters’ intense and powerful gaze, so we can feel our common wisdom.
The Rio Olympics broke not only sports records, but also one unexpected one, creating the largest street mural spray-painted by one single artist. This work was commissioned by the International Olympic Committee and it is nearly twice the size of the mural that held the previous record in Mazatlan, Mexico, as artist Ernesto Rocha’s mural was just 18,066 square feet.
Kobra worked for 12 hours a day, for two months, so he could complete Etnias just before the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. About 100 gallons of white paint, 400 gallons of colored paint, and 2,800 cans of spray paint were used by Kobra and his team. But, after all his work, the artist didn’t get to stay and enjoy the Rio Olympics, as he had to fly to Ohio to complete a mural graffiti of Neil Armstrong.
Kobra is responsible for other iconic street art murals in cities such as New York, London, Tokyo and Amsterdam. His style includes bright colors, geometric shapes, and quilted patterns.
Know Before You Go
Along the Olympic Boulevard, you can also find other murals by graffiti artists André Camila Cadiz, JR or Rita Wainer.