Eduardo Kobra is spreading the message of peace through his colourful artwork.
Street artist Eduardo Kobra was all of 12, when he realised his interest lay in sketching and drawing. So while kids his age parroted the curriculum in schools, his books were replete with sketches. Since he never took a liking to school, Eduardo started scrawling his name on neighbourhood and school walls, which soon saw him getting expelled. But this only motivated Educardo further to be dedicated to take graffiti art seriously.
“I didn’t get access to any type of art school or support from the government or my family in order to realise my work,” reminisces the self-taught artist. “Probably that is why I have always been so motivated, dedicated, passionate and very convinced about my work.”
And his perseverance paid off. Today, Eduardo has travelled to more than 20 countries across five continents, making graffiti art on public walls. A common theme running through his works are murals of international personalities like Nelson Mandela, John Lennon, David Bowie, Bob Marley, Edith Piaf, Salvador Dali and Albert Einstein among others. These figures are part of his project titled Olhares da Paz (Faces of Peace).
“I paint historical personalities who have been instrumental in spreading messages of peace across the world,” he explains. So, it was only fitting for Eduardo to paint a mural of Mahatma Gandhi as his first piece of art in India, at Churchgate station in Mumbai. As part of the initiative by the Asian Paints, NGO St+ art India Foundation, Eduardo painted a 25 metres long and 8 metres wide mural that spans across two facades of the station building.
Eduardo gushes, “Although working in the hot weather in Mumbai has been challenging, my experience has been incredible. Everything has been smooth since my arrival right from the infrastructure to working conditions. The project was well organised. I am ecstatic to have been a part of something which is associated with street art in India which is a nascent movement for a country.”
Mural at Churchgate, Mumbai
The artist makes use of bright colours and bold lines for his kaleidoscope-like street art portraits. While he paints historical figures in black, white and sepia images, he places his art against colourful-checkered background for effect.
Quiz him on what inspires him, and he says, “A lot of my style is influenced from the history of graffiti in New York. In addition, I have also been heavily influenced by Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera. He mastered in aesthetics and also in the country’s social and political messages. Eventually, I started following my own path. I am 42 years old and have been painting since I was 12. It has been a long journey to arrive where I am at.”
Last year, Eduardo and his assistants also painted a (32,000-square-foot) painting in Brazil as part of the Rio Olympics.
While Diego remains one of his inspirations, Banksy is another graffiti artist he looks up to. “Banksy, who is one of the most well known artists in the world, has also been a huge inspiration. Every piece that he does is worth looking at and digging deeper into,” he asserts.
Calling his work an “ongoing journey,” Eduardo says, “My art is heavily influenced by figures important for the history of the world. Broadly, my work is centred on social issues, such as protection of animals and positive values. What I do also serves as a chance to revisit history and document its important personalities. I emphasise on memory, and in this sense I would say, I am an activist.”