Notre-Dame-de-la-Croix church in Belleville-Ménilmontant, Northeast Paris.
Vitor Zanini’s work whether made in his home city of São Paulo or in Ménilmontant-Belleville relates to his relationship to material space from a cosmological point of view and relies upon intuition as its most important tool when in production. His work might be said to be truly site specific in that regard. The paintings we have chosen to show bring into motion forms and colours that reference situations he has experienced both since arriving in Paris, before and studio work made at the time of publication. The pieces come from a desire to mould the thoughts that he channels: the idea is to use what has been learned, to take the information and break into action with paint and brush.
When you go out for painting, is it alone?
Many times, yes. I like to paint by myself. Painting alone most times makes me more aware of the environment, specially to paint things in the city without permission, as I use brushes and paint, when I go to take a place it has a special timing I guess.
Are you part from a crew?
I’m also interested in collaboration, so I have kind of a crew that started from an art residency we did called Caos Germe in 2016. I say kind of a crew because many of the guys are not based in São Paulo, but we talk regularly. Everyone paints on the street but what connects us is our research on the unconscious mind. So for example, one guy from our crew, Arthur Doomer from Teresina, who studied biology for a while, neuroscience. There are two guys from Natal: Raom, who has a style of drawing which is really free, and Daniel Nec whose work is full of symbolism and references. Also there is Svera who is one of the first guys to do “xarpi” in Teresina, a particular kind of tag. We have a group called “Caos Germe”. The germ of caos that becomes into a creation. The collaborations are always very intuitive and gives me lots of energy.
How did you discover bombing?
In my neighbourhood in São Paulo, called Jaguaré, there was always more pixo [pixação] than street art or graffiti. I grew up very interested about this, and writing tags with friends was a common thing. I have always been drawing as a kid, specially to tell stories, so making zines and animation was very natural to me. My passion for making street art was aligned to my career into making animation. Painting in the streets became more serious for me in 2009 while I was doing stop-motion animation at the place where I lived at the time. I was in a dark room all night by myself for several hours and afterwards I needed to do something energetic to get the tension out, so painting in the streets was a natural thing, I did not even gave much thought. I found that the street painting complemented the studio-based animation work.
Vitor Zanini paints a wall adjoining the Notre-Dame-de-la-Croix church in Paris’ 20th arrondissement.
The animation, Hy Brasil blends image and sound to create a Brazilian urban experience. Using parts of a typical Brazilian musical theme and a series of distortions, the images portray emotions embedded in the city through its inhabitants.
Your animation work was figurative but today all of your work is abstract. What’s inspired this change?
Between animation and drawing the relation is movement. The same experiment on movement that I had on moving objects on stop-motion I bring to the drawing. About abstraction, I think it’s easier for people to relate to a figure but it’s also something that you can put apart from you. Like when you see a figure, a character, you say ‘oh, it’s that character’. When you see something abstract in some way you have to think about yourself to understand it. So I think I was getting into this process of making something that would communicate in a more intuitive way and people had to pass through a process of tapping their unconscious to have an idea and not just say, ‘ah, this is that’ as we do with advertising.
A former convent in São Paulo played host to the art residency, Zona Autônoma Temporária (ZAT) in January, 2016.
Vitor Zanini sits centre between artists, including Bartholomeu Gelpi, Keila Alaver, Tinho aka Walter Nomura and Lobot, for the art residency, Zona Autônoma Temporária (ZAT) at a former convent in São Paulo in January, 2016.
Is it right to say that when you paint, you don’t choose the support, but rather the environment around the support?
I think that it’s the combination of everything. It’s more like a feeling. I go to a place and I think ‘this place needs this drawing, that place needs that color’. me going more than one time to the place is a common thing, it´s important to feel the enviroment and communicate. I love all kinds of shapes and supports, and also having the time to feel, abandoned places have all of this. You feel what happened in that place and you’re witness to marks that reveal the history behind. There’s a place like this in an area called Vila Ipojuca in São Paulo, nearby to a place I used to live, an old factory. I went there and I painted many pieces last year. There were five floors and I painted all of them. Might be people who pass by and think, ‘shit there’s a gallery here’. It was a place that I visited so much because I could go early in the morning, feel the silence and see the city waking up.
Since I moved to São Paulo when I was a kid, cause I was born in Londrina- Paraná, I started going to a place by the beach called Ilha Comprida with my family. It is a very small city that I saw growing through the years. Twenty years ago, maybe because of imobiliary especulation , many people bought land there and started building houses, but later changed their minds for some reason, and it became abandoned. So I´ve been there at so many empty places through the years. I lived there in 2017 for a couple of months and I painted almost everyday, going by bike to empty places or walking around with my dog finding new spots (Pandora RIP).
What kind of media do you prefer to use, spraypaint, acrylic, etc?
Nowadays I like to use brush. Even doing vandals I like to use brushes, rolo, acrylics and cable when is needed.. The importance for me is in the impression of movement that can be achieved through touching the surface. I can express in a way that is more intense to me than with a spray can nowadays.
In the abstract form, you prefer to work on the circle?
This is something that came into the work after a while. When I started doing more intuitive work, it began with spikest . However, when I got more time to work with intuition and feeling, the work began to become a reflection of the body and, as such, of these circular movements. The movements I make are defined by my mental processes. For example, when I’m thinking about something constructed by man or I am in a enviroment that gets me this feeling is common to represent that with circle shapes and black or gray color. If I got the thinking into something to achieve that is far away it goes on straight lines or something that boils on blue. It’s fun how people react to this, people who come to me and say, ‘you’re the circle guy’. But you know, it is about everything around the circle, like I said at the beginning about figurative work, you try to put in a box of judgement to relate to what it is, to put a name on what they’re seeing, what they’re experiencing. Many times I’m painting and someone comes over and says ‘oh, what is this?’ I say, it’s a painting, it wants you to think and to have your own experience with it, it has a lot more to do with the permission to feel and the time to relate than with judgement. When someone gives that time to themselfes and start talking to me, I see that talking about the work they say so much about themselves. Sometimes about their relations, about overcoming something, about being controlled by something , this kind of feelings. I think it’s going to be a process of humanity to understand others without try to put a name on it. It is a tool for you to do something to do something with your mind. I get the most beautiful understanding with children that pass by when I´m painting, maybe that happens because they permit themselves to relate to feelings without trying to compare to something they already know.
One of a series of public art interventions made in Paris’ 20th arrondissement during late 2018.
When you started painting who was your major role model or who influenced you?
Thinking about my whole life, I would say a director from Czechoslovakia called Jan Svankmajer, who does animation and film. When I saw his work for the first time made me have faith and tell myself that it’s ok to do something different. He’s a surrealist and he puts a lot of his own experiences into his films creating the most interesting ambiences. I´m very interested by the psychoanalysis of Carl Jung, philosofy, dreams and all comunications that without word or not so many words. When I started with animation I wanted to do things that didn’t have words for communicate, that every human from everywhere could watch and understand.
I also have a big influence of everything that brings a concept of spirituality or self-connection. I grew up in a environment that puts me in contact with different kinds of religion and metaphysical ways to see the world that we live on. On daily bases I need to say that everybody that is near from me has a great influence: my close friends, my family, the place I grew up, conversations I have.
You started painting for you, but when did you understand that your art had an impact on other people?
Painting on the street is a lot about this, you learn a lot about how to communicate with the city and you see the impact on people right away. Nowadays I believe is more about people permit you to communicate with them then anything else. So much communication being take already by propaganda, internet and television. I think what I’m doing now if the person doesn’t permit it doesn’t happen. What it is in my hands to do is to get the first impact so they can be comfortable enough to make this communication to the piece, to the environment and to themselves.
When I met Demian from Street Art Paris I was painting at an art residency called ZAT that happened on a empty place, which used to be a convent. I stayed there for two weeks with great artists like Walter Nomura, Alex Orsetti, and many others. I painted two rooms, one of the rooms was all red and I painted everything, the floor, the ceiling, everything. The people who passed by the process and it was showed, had to go into the room through a hole in the wall and when you got into the red room it had an awesome impact. It was interesting to watch people entering the room and realise they are inside the work. They cannot escape, that’s the thing about doing big pieces or pieces that catch the hole ambient.
Gallery showing of Vitor Zanini’s Matéria e Pensamento series of works made circa 2015.
Artwork on paper, Fogo em 18 movimentos (56 x 40 cms), made in July, 2020.
Architectural feature of the Notre-Dame-de-la-Croix church in Belleville-Ménilmontant, Northeast Paris.
Book (Portuguese language): O Livro das Energias by Rubens Saraceni
(Please purchase a copy if you plan to read it in full.)
Interview made at Tour Gamma A, Gare de lyon, Paris in November, 2018.
Vitor Zanini on Instagram
Vitor Zanini on Vimeo