Jerry freehands a character onto the wall, with beading dividing the wall into two tones, for his ZAT residency installation.
Jerry Batista comes from Grajaú in São Paulo’s Zona Sul district and co-runs the A7MA gallery in the city’s Vila Madalena neighbourhood with a group of artists and screen printers whom he has grown up alongside in the city’s graffiti-street art and music scenes. Here is an interview with Jerry made in Grajaú, accompanied by images of a mural he has painted here in Paris’ main mural district, the 13th arrondissement at Nationale Metro station, in front of the first ever mural in Paris made by Shepard Fairey.
Jerry Batista adds the base layer for his mural in Paris’ 13th arrondissement.
The artist takes us on a tour and explains the local Grajaú street art scene.
I’m thinking about… how did you learn… how do you see the difference between you when you were younger and you painted, and this new generation, is there a change of theme? How do you see this horizon which rises?
So…what is a bit different, it starts with the fact that we had teachers, yes but they were not graffiti teachers really, they were not teachers of this urban art… but we had great teachers, this new generation had the chance to have teachers, to speak a little about the experiences…
What I see different… The Grajaú itself has always been known as a figurative painting place but this new generation, they are still doing figurative painting but a bit more abstract, the language is no more that clear as it was in my time, there are more subliminal things, some messages that are not that clear, I think it’s good this happening cause it shows that if art is the fruit of a period, this new generation can’t paint the same things that I have painted, they are going to paint new things which belong to their time… there are the words that they use a lot…
Is the use of words more common today?
They use more the words yes… singular words have always existed which express sometimes some moments, something, poetry is striking today among this new generation of painters, this thing also more… more vectorial, something which belongs to the modern language, of the internet. I think it’s good too.
And (—) sometimes it’s songs, sometimes it’s existential things, they do quite a lot these things sometimes subliminal, a bit abstract, and others times a bit more… but not that clear but more with some words that give a direction.
Installation by Jerry Batista for artistic residency ZAT in São Paulo organised by Tinho aka Walter Nomura.
Detail of an oil painting made onto an original Brazilian school desk for Jerry’s ZAT installation in São Paulo.
Oil painting onto a rusted school locker panel.
Existential words such as?
They have several friends who do mistakes, losing people, this process of change, so these things affect them too, so they put these essential things, things from the internet. This is what is different, they represent a lot things from the internet but today they do quite a lot of messages, they use quite a lot this way of communication, so I think it’s important too.
How do they use internet?
They use their Instagram, Facebook to reach more people, not only people from the community. So they paint here but they are also preoccupied by the people from the Zona Norte, so it makes it spread more, they try also to have contacts with these people, through this way, so this is really good, they move from here too and go and paint in the centre of the city.
A thing I see which is striking is the latex thing, they use it quite a lot, because they have to, spray is very expensive and latex is a bit cheaper and you can fill big spaces, so most of the people in Grajaú always use latex with spray which is the old method of the graffiti school, exactly for this, because of a necessity, so it’s quite striking here in the city.
Jerry Batista, and friends, including Brazilian conceptual artist, Eduoardo Srur.
You spoke about horizon but I didn’t understand…
You see the people, how they use… how they use the information they have to transform in…what today is more large. I think the artist’s evolution is linked with this opening, so you keep collecting things and processing it.
How do you see these artists, not only from the new generation, how can they take advantage of this bigger horizon?
I really like this new process, of internet… I think it’s good too the way of oral communication, the pictures, today you post a photo and someone I don’t know in England comments it and give you the possibility to exchange with her, sometimes they don’t speak the same language but they are discussing, so I think it’s really cool like this, to see people who identify themselves, not only Brazilians but from all around the world and this web, these contacts that we are collecting I think it’s really important for the modern world, not to stay stocked in one place.
I think the risk today of being an artist and dying in his neighbourhood, if you use internet, it’s really low… you go with this people who are going to like what you like and who will want follow you, the process of your work, it’s a bit that.
He’s speaking about the possibility today of absorbing this information which is produced (–) but will be reinterpreted here, the techniques, themes, how do you see that?
How do you feel this interpretation, of the local reality, you see works of others artists and everything… it goes through you and you continue your work, how do you see that?
This thing of influences, of the modern world, it makes you also reach others artists and people…
Among our school here, we have always been worried about this fact of copying the others, of seeing… to such an extent that our old school, which is formed by Tinho [Walter Nomura], these people they faced this problem you know, and then stories happened, people were criticising, so people focused on finding their own style you know.
I think these things were important but understand that you’re unique is the secret to develop a good art you know. Once people asked, a woman asked a photographer, “Oh man there are so many photographers today…” the guy began to take photos, everybody was telling him to not continue cause there were so many people already doing it. “What do you think about that,” the guy said, if you have a unique vision, if your point of view is special, everybody will want to see it cause people want to see the individuality, what each person has to offer. So people were worried about this here, to have something special and unique to transmit, but it’s obvious that references, influences are not forgotten too.
But yes to absorb this and use it almost like in a Chinese proverb, you use a saying to… to use an experience for something else you know, so absorbing this and knowing how to use it, in a different way, not copying it, to have an influence, a context, this is very important and I think it happens a lot here in Grajaú, people succeed to translate it very well, when a guy does a song, a rap, there is always the context of a vision, they only want to transmit a message from inside to outside or it comes from outside to inside so I think this is it, they receive something from outside and then they think “cool I liked it and now look at what we have here inside for you to see,” so it’s like an exchange.
And about this context exactly, do you think this is what makes each one unique?
I think it’s the cohabitation of everyone, here the family is something very strong you know, it’s really important in everyone’s life, new generation don’t leave their parents like this, on the contrary.
Although, some don’t follow this you know, but I think this context, these difficulties, or this joy, which each family has, which each person has, it’s about transmitting something to the other, so I think this is very important, it’s almost like Brazilian Northeast literature, it’s a bit like this you know, people act like “Look in my street there is this, and this,” so people want to show “my family has this, and this” or “my family don’t have this, and this”. So this presence is very important, to want to transform, the young guy who wants to show a bit of his changes, his evolution, so I think it’s quite characteristic of each artist from this neighbourhood here.
Jerry Batista on Facebook, here.
Jerry Batista on Instagram, here.