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From the Streets to the Galleries, Art Is Thriving in São Paulo

03/05/2015 12:59 pm ET | Updated May 05, 2015

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Zipper Galeria in São Paulo. Photo by Stephen J. Grant

The city of São Paulo in Brazil is home to hundreds of museums and galleries. Browsing through neighborhoods such as Pinheiros, Jardim Paulista, or my favorite Vila Madalena, you are sure to find a space that meets your cultural desires.

Street Art

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Street art in Vila Madalena, a neighborhood in São Paulo. Photo by Stephen J. Grant

Before stepping into one of Sao Paulo's many galleries there is no escaping the art in the street. Graffiti culture in Brazil is breathtaking, adding color and context to the city. Artists use the city walls to present all forms of art including abstract, portraiture and artwork with strong political statements. Avenida 23 de Maio and the Museu Aberto de Arte Urbana de São Paulo on Avenida Cruzeiro do Sul, display an array of artists with story-telling images that extend for miles. Yet beyond these streets, graffiti artists like OSGERMOS, Nexus, Cadumen and Cranio can be found everywhere you look.

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Street art in São Paulo. Artwork by Paulo Ito. Photo by Stephen J. Grant.

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Street art detail in São Paulo. Artist unknown. Photo by Stephen J. Grant.

Museums

If you want a deeper cultural experience you can spend hours in São Paulo's several museums. The Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo is one of the largest in the city and holds a wide selection of Brazilian art. The exhibition Arte no Brasil: uma história na Pinacoteca São Paulo, currently on view through December 2015 presents 500 selections of artwork that provides a deep look into Brazil's art history.

Pinacoteca attracts artists and visitors from around the world. Most recently, people waited in long lines every morning to get a final view of Australian sculptor Ron Mueck's iconic still life figures. His stunning mixed media sculptures are made from materials such as silicone, polyurethane and synthetic hair. Mueck's realistic designs capture life, emotion and creativity unlike any sculptures I have ever viewed.

Other museums in the city worth visiting are Museu Afro Brasil and Museu de Arte de São Paulo.

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Mask II, mixed media by Ron Mueck at Pinacoteca. Photo by Gustavo S. Requena

Galleries

If you prefer a smaller gallery experience your options are endless. You can visit Zipper Galeria where they are currently exhibiting work by Brazilian artist James Kudo in a show titled, Oximoro. Kudo's hand-painted collages combine imagination, real life and a conversation about environmental issues. Denise Matter notes, "John Kudo saw the dream city of his grandparents submerge in water, leaving a trail of destruction and loss. And there he saw the rise of a new reality, less romantic - yet vibrant." This exhibition runs until March 21st and a mind-bending installation titled, The Matter of Time as an Experience in Space by Peruvian artist Diego Arregui is also on view.

Another gallery worth visiting is Dan Galeria just a few steps away.

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Artwork by James Kudo, Zipper Galeria. Photo by Stephen J. Grant.

In Vila Madalena you are sure to walk by someone carrying a guitar or see a group of performers dancing in the street. Notable street artists have added their touch to this neighborhood and walking up Rua Harmonia you are guaranteed to find great shops and cafés. It is no surprise that the art galleries here are just as dynamic as the neighborhood they're located in.

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A7MA Galeria. Photo by Stephen J. Grant

Spaces like A7MA and Choque Cultural are must-see galleries exhibiting contemporary art. They are both visually striking inside out and are located at opposite ends of a passageway dedicated to graffiti culture. Your greeters here are more likely to have tattoos and piercings, which is a nice reminder that great art is not always presented in a conventional manner.

Also in the neighborhood is Galeria Porão, a new space with a focus on photography. Their goal is to present affordable, good quality photos. The artists featured are mostly Brazil based, but have arrived from all over the world.

See more articles and photos by Stephen J. Grant at stephenjgrant.com

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