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Artist Interview: Kobra

July 7, 2016
8 min read
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Brazil’s Eduardo Kobra continues to put up fantastic works all over the world. Using bright colors filled with different textures, lines, and shading, Kobra’s works are striking in the city settings where they are often found.

Kobra uses methodical grid planning, masterful shading and swirling effects to complete massively-scaled portraits that are typically done on buldings, walls, and murals.  Historical figures and musicians continue to be Eduardo Kobra’s muses. His subjects have included musical masterminds such as Tupac Shakur, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Notorious B.I.G., Ray Charles, Kurt Cobain, and Jim Morrison. Albert Einstein, Basquiat, Abraham Lincoln, the Dalai Lama, and Andy Warhol are just a few of the others who Kobra has honored on walls.


Bob Dylan in Minneapolis

The artist recently came to Chicago as part of Wabash Arts Corridor‘s “Big Walls” project. Curated by Lindsey Meyers and Beauty & Brawn Art Gallery and Think Space and in conjunction with Columbia College, Kobra spent his time in the city creating a mural depicting legendary Chicago blues musician Muddy Waters on State Street.

Kobra kindly answered some questions from our own @jreich while finishing up his iconic Muddy mural.

@jreich – Welcome to Chicago! Tell us your thoughts on the city during your time here so far.
Kobra – I knew Chicago only in pictures and listening people talking about the city, but now I can see with my own eyes the city more beautiful than already visited the USA, the city is very catchy, the beauty of traditional architecture in contrast with modern building happens naturally, Parks gardens and every culture exposed in the own streets, ‘and a place I want to come back often! I already have plans for the Wall Next, related to Vivian Maier.

@jreich -From the perspective of street art and art in general, what (if anything) did you know about Chicago before you arrived?
Kobra – I started to paint in 1987 and in this’ epoch we received little or virtually no information about global street art. I had my first contact through the Spray Can Art books, Subway art, and my relationships were always on the Hip-Hop culture. Then a few years, I realized that the street art in Chicago had this source too, and not differed much of the NYC style , and also big names, which eventually influenced artists from around the world. Although this specific information has come some times later to Brazil, it was very important and revealing to see the decade of the artists of avant-garde attitude of the 80s. In recent times which have great repercussion in the world are the large public works made and exhibited in Chicago, I believe that street art is in DNA. Chicago, and it has been awakened again.


Manhattan NYC, corner of 25th and 10th

@jreich – How did you become part of the Wabash Arts Corridor’s “Big Walls” Festival?
Kobra – When I received invitation Art Corridor Festival Wabash in Chicago, I tried to change my schedule and adapt because I wanted to have a work in the streets of Chicago. Although some technical difficulties have occurred due to situations related to structural issues, the wall  happened to be the best! We had to modify the project, but the wall came to one of the main avenues of the city known as the Chicago Loop, on State Street. It’s a wall 20 meters by 12 meters for a wall 50 meters high by 20 meters, the adaptation was amazing and the great experience, the team that supported was phenomenal.

@jreich – Your mural features one of Chicago’s most legendary artists, Muddy Waters. How did you decide to use Muddy for your piece?
Kobra – Muddy Waters is a legend. My murals have just this purpose, to coordinate historical facts, creating portals to cities in the past. Personalities who were important in the history of mankind, and no doubt that Muddy changed the world scenario of Blues.

@jreich – 2Pac, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Kurt Cobain, David Bowie and Bob Marley have all been subjects of your work. What is it about musicians that continues to inspire you to create works featuring them?
Kobra – I am moved by good quality music. I listen while I am creating, walking, relaxing. All these artists have had great importance in my trajectory and changing history and especially what motivates me to paint these characters is the personal essence of each of them which is closely linked to resilience, motivation and inspiration.


Hip Hop legends 2Pac & Biggie in Miami, FL

@jreich- Who(musician or otherwise) have you not done a mural of that you’d like to in the future and why?
Kobra – Many rappers from the old school, some of Bossa Nova, and many others who were timeless. Like Run DMC, who knows the streets of NYC.

@jreich -Your works are so colorful and eye catching. I’ve described them to people unfamiliar with your work as a “kaleidoscope on a wall”. How do you describe your own style?
Kobra – I have a few different designs, sometimes the murals are in Black and White, the times Sephia, when they are colorful, the colors are closely related to the image. I try to recreate the emotion through color.

@jreich – Your Yoda “Stop Wars” mural in Miami quickly went “viral”. Did you expect that piece to become iconic so quickly?
Kobra – I did not expect! I have dozens of creations on my phone Notepad, which sometimes turn into drawings, then screens, and at the end murals. In the case of Yoda, I created more than 2 years before and had forgotten this design. But, when I created the mural “a chance Peace” and decided to paint, but I confess that it was in the 45-minute second time.


Kobra’s iconic “Stop Wars” mural in Miami

@jreich – What do you have planned for the rest of 2016 and beyond?
Kobra – Good question. I have a project in Japan with 3 murals, then a large mural in Rio de Janeiro with 3000 square meters in sequence. Soon after more 6 countries that I am organizing. With the birth of my son “Pedrinho” I will be more cautious.

Thank you to Kobra for answering our questions, and big congrats on the birth of Pedrinho!

Follow Kobra on Instagram at @kobrastreetart and keep up with his website www.eduardokobra.com

Also a big thanks to the Wabash Arts Corridor (www.WabashArtsCorridor.org) and Beauty & Brawn Art Gallery and Thinkspace (www.beautyandbrawngallery.com)!

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