São Paulo Street Art: In Batman's Alley / by Ian Hameroff

São Paulo, Brazil is a very diverse city offering everything one would expect for a place that's nearly 600 square miles and home to more than 11 million people. Amongst its most interesting features is the "grafites" (or graffiti) that's sprayed on many a building across the city.

Much of this appears to be nothing more than a strange street dialectic that looks almost alien, like an ancient race had landed and scribed their proclamations at across the tops and bottoms of building facades. But the prevalence of "Pixação" shouldn't overshadow the real "street art" you can find almost everywhere--welcomed or otherwise--along the ruas and avenidas of São Paulo.

In fact, there are some places where this artwork can found in an ever evolving "open air gallery" that is like a living organism of aerosol spray, crafty designs and an array of messages--often a mix of political, societal and artist ego. One such place, called Beco do Batman or "Batman Alley", exists in the Vila Madalena neighborhood.

Late Morning Along Beco do Batman

Beco do Batman is a fantastic place to visit.

White Tree House

It is really alive and ever changing, as evidence by the total lack of any trace of the art from the last time I was there in 2008.

As an aside: I had one of my photos from that prior visit featured in a photography show and it still remains one of my most favorite captures I've ever made.

Just like I did in 2008, I took my trusty Nikon and captured about 50 or so exposures. I would have liked to have taken even more shots, but it was a super busy day all along the alley. At least four groups were taking pictures at a various points, including some that look like either a professional shoot or students from the same photography class asked to complete an assignment in this rich location.

Beco do Batman's popularity was further bolstered by all of the "gringos" in town for the World Cup and after it was featured in the in-flight magazine for (at least) TAM Airlines. Just a few moments after we made our way out of the alley, a car stopped us to ask for directions to the site.

Beco do Batman

There is no particular rhyme or reason to the spray painted canvasses that are basically the back walls of the various houses and buildings that line the alleyway. Oh, this is an active thoroughfare, as we had to step aside many times to allow cars to travel through the one-way connector.


A lot of the art here is created by some of the better known graffiti artists, like "Não" (which means "No" in Portuguese). And, it seems like there is a lot of respect for the art of others, as few of the "pieces" are corrupted by over-spray from other works.

The following is a sampling of photos I took during this most recent visit (NOTE: the titles are my own for the pictures and not the original artist's. Hope the original artists don't mind my interpretation of their work.)

"Eye See You"

Eye See You



"Rising Sun"

Rising Sun

"Cow Trance"

Cow Trance

"The Beast"

The Beast



"The Conversation"

The Conversation



As you've likely noted, the diversity of the artwork is incredible. Different styles. Different messages. Different subjects.

You even get the occasional protest or activist tag amongst the other works.

The Best Protest

The loose translation: "Not consuming is the most powerful protest"

And, the street art is not just confined to the alley called Beco do Batman.

Grafites Parking Spot

It can be found all around Rua Gonçalo Afonso, like this driveway less than a hundred yards away from one of the ends of the alley.

I really loved a few bits of graffiti a little further away from Batman Alley, like this fantastic work I've called "Falando":


And this one that looks like the artist's rendering of Q*bert.

Q*bert's Garage

I have a bunch more shots from our trip through Brazil for this year's World Cup Finals. I hope to get through the nearly 1,000 exposures before the next World Cup!