Eduardo Kobra & New York’s Street Art: A true love story that begins with a simple kiss!1 April 2020
It is by reproducing the famous picture of the VJ Day Kiss in Times Square that Eduardo Kobra Brazilian Street Artist, capture the hears of New Yorkers. This Kiss painted in 2010 is a magnificent highlight of the iconic photo taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt on August 13, 1945 in Times Square. On this Day, all New Yorkers took to the streets to celebrate the end of the Second World War. “The Kiss” is an interesting introduction to Kobra’s work; we find its ray of colors and lights, its kaleidoscopic composition and already its taste for details. It is also representing the meaning he wishes to incorporate on his work: The end of war is peace! And Kobra tirelessly distils messages of peace in his woks, just as he highlights personalities who have worked for it with dedication.
On my last trip to New York, I was chocked when I walked on the High Line and see that this major piece of New York’s Street Art no longer existed! But as I had the chance to see it in July 2012, I am happy to share with you this very beautiful memory.
« Colors of Liberty”, a humanist project led by Eduardo Kobra since few years
Sometimes with touches of humour, sometimes by introducing strong symbols on his murals; Eduardo Kobra works for Peace. His “Colors of Liberty” project allows him to use those murals to peacefully show the problems that are polluting the actual world. He tries to educate passers-by on complex subjects, such as racism, violence, the use of firearms.
Eduardo Kobra, a deeply humanist, is also attached to Human Rights and believes that the world will still need many “peacemakers”. His work salutes the memory of those who worked for peace, some of whom even lost their lives for it.
As I wandered around New York, the beauty of this face to face between Mother Teresa and Gandhi stuck me. A magnificent tribute, whose photo is worth more that all the words I could write to you.
The peculiarity of Kobra does not only showing famous personalities; but also the celebration of anonymous people. His fresco called “ELLIS” for Ellis Island highlights 5 immigrants in order to pay tribute to the million migrants who transited through this island and participated in the construction of New York. Political fresco? Perhaps. In any case a fresco made to remind history in these uncertain times. This fresco is truly monumental; the largest I have seen in Manhattan. It extends over 8600 Sqft and is painted on the school in which Jean-Michel Basquiat went. Coincidence? I don’t think so 😉
Another monumental fresco, highly symbolic, has certainly helped to strengthen this bond between the Brazilian artist and New Yorkers. This anonymous fireman is taken from a photography done on September 11. A tribute to all the firemen called “The Brave of 9/11”. This imposing fresco rises on 7th floors and reinforce the feeling we are experiencing watching the tirelessly man having all the weight of the gravity of the moment on its shoulders.
More political, with a touch of humour, the Statue of Liberty, according Eduardo Kobra, proudly wears a Mexican Sombrero. At that time when the current President of United States want to build a wall between US & Mexico; this mural is a little reminder of what USA really is. The American Melting Pot is an integral part of the American Dreams. Kobra softens this work, which could appear as a provocation, by replacing the flame by the Dove of Peace! Very sweet message, right?
Why New York for this colossal project?
For Eduardo Kobra the answer is simple: Street Art was born in New York. Artsist who influenced him painted on the metro, others like Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein invented Pop Art and its acid colours. Kobra believes that New York taught him a lot… For him it as normal that this specific project was mostly carried out in the Big Apple.
And of course he does not fail to pay tribute to his sources of inspiration!
I’m not going to hide the fact this tribute to Roy Lichtenstein deeply touched me. This resumption of Lichtenstein’s own style, this dotted line, his comic bubble style, the way hair is drawn, reinforces the power of the tribute. An amazing worked housed on the terrace of an unpretentious hotel on the Upper East Side.
Regarding his second tribute, I admit, it bothered me a little. Simply because it replaced a Pixel Pancho fresco I really like. But it is also renewal that makes Street Art what it is! As you will see bellow, I still slipped an intruder into the article and I couldn’t resist showing the before/after; like on bad anti-wrinkle ad. And maybe on my next trip to New York a new fresco will come to cover it all!
A more than admitted fascination for Albert Einstein
I don’t think this Albert Einstein’s series is part of his “Colors of Liberty” project. Even if I see a certain connection there, since knowledge is the key to freedom; of ours own freedom to be able to raise in society, but also in a more global way knowledge is avoiding people to be manipulate with dictatorial speeches.
Albert Einstein is certainly the face that Eduardo Kobra has painting more; whether in Palm Beach in Florida, in Los Angeles or even in New York. It looks like Einstein is Kobra’s hero!
Some find Eduardo Kobra a bit demagogic, others are jealous; the fact remains that his work is monumental and his commitment to peace real and deep. Whenever I discovered a new fresco in New York; I wondered what that young boy, living in a very modest suburb of Sao Paolo, could have as America’s image in his head: The American dream or else? And this young boy who has managed to conquer New York like no other Street Artist before; what can he think when he paints an immigrant from Ellis Island from the top of his basket?
Kobra’s interviews are rare, so my questions will remain unanswered; but in any case I am happy to have shared with you these majestic works full of meaning.
If this article made you wants to discover more about New York’s Street Art, I suggest you a very nice walk in the heart of Manhattan. Or you can also discover two iconic Street Art places: The Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn or the Welling Court Mural Project in Queens. You are also welcome on my Instagram where many artworks from New York are waiting for you 😉
See you soon for new Street Art adventures. Until then stay confined and take good care of you! 😉