favela painting by haas&hahn
favela painting by haas&hahn favela painting by haas&hahn
dec 13, 2011

favela painting by haas&hahn

section of ‘praça cantão, communidade da santa marta’, 2010, rio de janeiro, brazil image © favela painting project

as part of the 2011 shenzhen hong kong biennale’s program (SZHK), dutch art collective haas&hahn (jeroen koolhaas and dre urhahn) who founded the favela painting project, curated and presented an exhibition of their initiative’s work, which aims at turning public urban spaces in communities facing social difficulties into monumental works of art. the art of favela painting is not about cosmetically ‘camouflaging’ an area, but rather rejuvenating deprived areas of a city and creating a positive social effect on the general district at hand. it is a means of imagination and rethinking, redesigning and rebranding a community at whole.

in 2005, haas&hahn began with developing the idea of creating their community-driven art interventions in brazil. they set-up a series of project in rio’s vila cruzeiro, which later spread to places such as santa marta. the duo’s artistic venture offers local youth education and job opportunities, while beautifying their community and making it a more pleasant place to live. together with these local youth, koolhaas and urhahn have created striking facades which have become iconic works of art within rio’s urban landscape. koolhaas and urhahn have been invited by the SZHK biennale to realize a favela painting in shenzhen within the  old buildings of luohu cigarette factory.


section of ‘praça cantão, communidade da santa marta’ image © favela painting project

section of ‘praça cantão, communidade da santa marta’ image © favela painting project

‘praça cantão, communidade da santa marta’, 2010, rio de janeiro, brazil image © favela painting project

images © favela painting project

‘rio cruzeiro’, 2008 in vila cruzeiro, brazil image © favela painting project

detail of ‘rio cruzeiro’ image © favela painting project

‘rio cruzeiro’ painting in progress image © favela painting project

‘boy with kite’, 2007 by haas&hahn in rio de janiero, brazil image © favela painting project

detail of ‘boy with kite’ image © favela painting project

image © favela painting project

general view of the ‘favela painting project’ exhibition at the shenzhen hong kong biennale 2011 image © designboom

jeroen koolhaas and dre urhahn of the favela painting project portrait © designboom

haas & hahn speak with designboom about the favela painting project at the shenzhen hong kong biennale 2011 video © designboom

the 2011 SZHK biennale

in shenzhen, china ran from december 8th through december 11th 2011. the scale of certain projects is such that the architect becomes not only a designer of buildings but also city planner and landscape architect and the shenzhen & hong kong bi-city biennale of urbanism \ architecture reflects this in its theme: architecture creates cities – cities create architecture. the SZHK biennale is the first to focus on urbanism as an ongoing theme to explore issues of the city as an active agent in contemporary culture. the program included more than 30 exhibitions, symposiums, panel discussions and performances. terence riley has been appointed chief curator (he is the first international curator for the event). the hong kong edition will work to complement the shenzhen biennale in an integrative way and is curated by gene king and anderson lee currently under preparation and due to open in february 2012. designboom is the principal international media partner of the SZHK biennale.

  • Brazil is fashion lately. Favelas also.
    I’m so tired of artists coming to Brazil, visiting a favela, doing so art and leaving. They think they did a wonderful job in there, a huge transformation. It looks great for their careers. Favelas remain the same.

    Daniel from Brazil. says:
  • PS: Please don’t even think of expanding it and painting the entire favela. We don’t wanna live INSIDE a rainbow!

    Daniel from Brazil. says:
  • @daniel, i have never been to brazil, and i understand a lot your thoughts. but i have to say too in where i grew up in a not so nice part of brooklyn, i think it really can make a difference when bright colors and street art suddenly appears in your neighborhood. for me it can bring back how i felt when i would see it as a little kid, suddenly like you live in a pretty cool place, that theres something magic there, even if day to day life is hard. i know its a personal thing but i just wanted to throw that out there.
    allright, g’nite. 🙂

    tomas says:
  • Just talking on the level of art, these are fantastic!!

    Julie says:
  • Totally agree with Daniel from Brazil. If you want paint on people’s homes…let them do it. Check out “caminito” in Buenos Aires.

    Porteño says:
  • UHHH, it’s a community building project and they employ LOCAL youth to help them execute the paintings…

    Just sayin' says:
  • @Just sayin’

    Do you think they paid well? Maybe yes. Do you think that LOCAL youth worked for more than a week on the project? …

    It’s like charity on Xmas: you provide some food, satisfy the hunger and thirst on a day, and forget about the rest of the year. People has needs EVERY DAY! 🙁

    And live under poverty looking to beautiful colours may help, surely..

    Daniel from Brazil. says:
  • Daniel, what are you doing for society besides trolling blogs?

    Curios says:
  • @’Curios’
    That’s is not in question. However I’ll take some time to reply to it.

    I work for IT, very busy man. However I take at least 2 hours every week on a social project teaching informatics to children (from favelas, poor areas and native Brazilian indians) and unemployed adults. Part is education, part is helping to find a job.

    This is what I do now for the community/city I just moved in. A complete list would be time costing now…

    Daniel from Brazil. says:
  • Fair enough Daniel, good for you.

    Still, I disagree about your views on the Favela painting project. The rainbow houses might be a bit extreme but I do feel they contribute towards ‘local identity’ and seeing bright colors each day is nicer than seeing grey buildings… the Boy with a Kite definitely improves its surroundings IMO.

    There are many ways that society can be improved and I the visual surroundings is one. It might not be as important as Living standards, Healthcare and Education but it’s valid in my book.

    In your first comment you are targeting the fact the artists are not Brazilian, I think this is irrelevant… could you tell us of Brazilian artists who are actively working to improve the Favelas of Rio? Surely they are the people to improve the quality of life for their communities on a daily basis? This is not about the nationalities of the Artists – you make out like they think they are some kind of emancipators…. I think they have good intentions.

    I would imagine that anybody with the resources to definitely improve the life in the favelas are probably Middle / Upper class Brazilians making money from the people who live in Favelas – Who choose not to improve the live for the lower classes in their country so they can stay rich and comfortable.

    Even more Curios says:
  • I think it is important to question outside design intervention, and it is hard to get enough information to truly celebrate or condem a project from one post.

    After checking out the project’s website, it seems local youth receive some job training (in painting/building maintenance) and are employed for about a week. It definitely seems some within the favelas are welcoming the project and that the artists do have a long term stake in Brazil, I definitely have more questions (and wrote a post about them on my blog) but that there are lessons to be learned not errors to be condemned.

    percentblog says:
  • I absolutely agree with you, Daniel and percentblog.

    @Curious, he is not trolling. If I came from a poor neighborhood and artists were coming in and romanticizing its landscape, I, too, would feel the need to comment on it. Daniel lives in Brazil so I think he would know the social situation better than people who are not from Brazil.

    People need food, water, shelter, jobs, and education. These Dutch artists may have had good intentions but that does not automatically mean they are making a valuable impact on the local community. Check out http://goodintents.org for more on that.

    Lucy says:

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