Alexandre Orion grew up in some of the busiest streets in Brazil. As a child in São Paulo, he became accustomed to sidewalks thronged all day, and the din of traffic at night. Orion was quick to respond to the appeal of the streets and his first graffiti was done at the age of 13. While adolescent instinct drove him, the hard reality of the streets called for new ideals. Now he draws inspiration from multitudes; silence and thought; experiences and memories; happiness and suffering. An artist amid the crowd, the many found within him. Humanity lives in Orion: his time unique, his universe collective space.
Discovering, in 2000, the theory of image in Barthes, Dubois and Aumont. A year later, his Metabiotics project involved finding a place in the city where he would paint the wall and with his camera at the ready, await the decisive instant when people interacted spontaneously with his paintings. Framing the precise situation promoted a joining of painting and real life, encouraging an encounter (or confrontation) between reality and fiction within the field of photography.
This decisive moment of interaction between people and painted image led to Metabiotics, as opposed to traditional photography's conveying the false idea of all that is photographic being real. Metabiotics questions truthfulness: the paintings were actually done in the walls, people really did pass by and act spontaneously, but what we see suggests a type of montage that did not exist. Everything is both true and false.
In 2006, Orion created Ossário, an intervention in one of São Paulo's road tunnels, spending 13 nights or early mornings using pieces of cloth to remove some of the thick layer of soot from vehicle exhausts impregnating sidewalls. But the grime was selectively wiped off in such a way that skulls were outlined by the grime left on the walls. The tunnel became a catacomb with over 3,500 hand-designed skulls reminding people that the same black soot impregnating tunnel walls also darkens our lungs and our lives. Our very own archeological site was brought to our notice.
The work was done at night as Orion faced deafening traffic noise, the suffocating sensation of stagnant air, and numerous police checks. But cleaning is not a crime; polluting is. As the work progressed, it became clear that nobody could stop him cleaning up - except by doing the job before him. So a few weeks later, teams of municipal workers turned up to remove grime, but only from the intervention area. The rest of the tunnel was left as it was. As if nothing had happened, Orion continued working until the municipal staff returned. This time, they washed the whole tunnel. The name of the crime had changed: now it was censorship. After the intervention, all the road tunnels in the city were cleaned up. But the recently washed walls became black again in an amazing short time. The Ossário message had already been delivered. But Orion did not stop there. Returning to the tunnels, he drew the skulls and took the dust or soot off the walls using rags. Then, he washed the rags and waited for the soot to settle and the water to evaporate until just the black powder from exhaust tubes was left. This apparently useless toxic substance was made into pigment and used for the works in the Art Less Pollution series of large-scale paintings, their impressive realism evoking old advertising images with a touch of irony. Orion is using pollution to portray the apparently inoffensive everyday existence that produces it.
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- Matthew Vree (March 14, 2006). "ENGLISH . First he paints on walls. Then he bring his street images to life". San Francisco Chronicle. p. E1.
- Kate Stanworth (June 27, 2008). "ENGLISH . Alexandre Orion - Exposing The City". The Argentina Independent.
- Nicholaus Gutierrez (May 18, 2011). "ENGLISH . Ossario". Sensate Journal.
- Endrigo Chiri Braz (April 8, 2010). "PORTUGUESE . A Arte Urbana de Alexandre Orion". Revista Cult.
- Diogo Rodriguez (March 11, 2010). "PORTUGUESE . Osso em Pó". Revista Trip.
- Interview (September 19, 2011). "SPANISH . Interstícios Urbanos". The City Loves You.
- Isabelle Pohl (September 13, 2010). "DUTSCH . Wenn Graffiti lebendig wird – Alexandre Orion". I . Ref.
- Jacob Kimvall (February 29, 2008). "SWEDISH . Omvänd graffitirengöring". I . Ref.