Pixação or pichação (Portuguese pronunciation: [piʃaˈsɐ̃w̃]) is a unique form of graffiti native to the Southeastern metropolises of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil. It consists of tagging done in a distinctive, cryptic style, mainly on walls and vacant buildings. Many pixação artists compete to paint in high and inaccessible places, using such techniques as free climbing and abseiling to reach the locations. Pixação has inspired and formed many Brazilian street artists, such as Os Gêmeos and Nunca (Francisco Rodrigues da Silva).
Pixação, known also as "wall writings", began in the 1940s and 50s as political statements written in tar and “were often written in response to the slogans painted by political parties across the streets.” “Piche” is the Portuguese word for tar, so pixação refers to writings made in it. In the 1970s, pixação almost disappeared, however it was revived in the 1980s by a group of kids who began writing their names, and the names of their crews, instead of political slogans.
Although pixação is no longer made up of political statements, but names, it is still a social statement.
Pixação is a “vehicle for the youth of the city to assert their existence and self-worth, and to do it loudly. As a social protest, Pixação is brutal, effective and pulls no punches. There is no country on earth with a worse distribution of wealth than Brazil. For the rich, there are nice buildings. For the poor, there are shanty towns. Pixação exists on the very surface of the constested wealth, and promises to keep on punishing the fortunate until they produce a world less punishing to begin with.”
Pixação, in relation to murals or other types of graffiti, “is at times a tough sell even to graffiti aficionados, but anyone painting in the streets of Brazil must give it a tip of the hat, for it certainly makes other street artwork, rudely illegal or otherwise, appear a generous community service in comparison.”
Although its name is derived from the word for tar, many of the “pichadores” (those who do pixação) in São Paulo use a 2-3 inch foam roller and latex paint. In other cities, such as Rio de Janeiro, pichadores use spray paint. Many pichadores write their crew name, while others write their own individual name. The letters are usually of equal height and spacing, although technique varies in different cities around Brazil. Although the lettering originally reflected the typography of eighties heavy metal record covers, the styles have evolved over time.
Pichadores often compete to tag the tallest, most dangerous, and most noteworthy locations. One example of this is the group Os Diferentes, who tagged the Cristo Redentor statue in Rio de Janeiro, a national and international symbol of Brazil. Although caught and arrested, they bragged about it the next day.
- Manco, Tristan, Lost Art, and Caleb Neelon; “Graffiti Brasil”, Thames & Hudson, London, 2005 (ISBN 0 5002 85784 8)
- What is pixação? From the Juxtapoz magazine special Brazil issue.
- www.seidaris.de German artist analyzing Pixacao and interpreting it into western form.
- Pixação videos we love: pixação’s barbarian alphabet