Paulo Nimer Pjota (b. 1988) was born in Sao José do Rio Preto, Brazil and now lives and works in São Paulo. He moved there at the age of 17 to study visual arts at the Centro Universitário Belas Artes de São Paulo.
Pjota unites art history with the complexity of contemporary social imagery to create large-scale, layered visual narratives. Drawing inspiration from the vernacular constructions of the ghettoes, popular imagery, such as cartoons, and artists like Cy Twombly and Jean-Michel Basquiat, the artist aims to highlight sensations of violence, conflict, and turmoil inherent to the periphery of urban conglomerates. More than this, his work is about the ordinary; about a place’s own cultural formation and public catharses.
Preferring to work across large surfaces, Pjota employs canvas, sacks, and metal plates found in junkyards. Expanding to colossal dimensions, Pjota’s narratives highlight the clichés of figurative and landscape painting and intertwine them with symbols of quotidian life. Incorporating detailed renderings of plants, vases, isolated words, cartoons, and historical characters, Pjota’s amassment of diverse forms are imbued with metaphors and allusions; manifesting themselves upon the canvas with a coloristic rawness. At once chaotic and calm, his compositions are awash with contradictions. Rather than adhering to a single, fluid understanding, innumerable alternatives of contextualisation encircle one another making his work appear to be both meticulous and random; spontaneous and disciplined.
Characterised by gestures that vibrate with consternation, irony, contemplation and protest, his works create anachronisms that address the handling of icons and indexes and the role they have played throughout history under the guise of power relationships. Within this turbulent mess, illustrations are juxtaposed with classical still-lives; ancient Greek art with superheroes; archaeological artefacts with soda cans, and so on. Interlaced in this constellation of conflicting objects are cartoons, stains, graffiti tags, and scribbles. Here, the appreciation of engravings, prisoners’ drawings and tattoo art reveals his past as a graffiti artist on the street of São Paulo.