Estenio “Estenismo” Naum grew up in São Paulo, a metropolis long famous for its vibrant street art scene. His formative years were spent in a place and among a people, where art is a natural part of public life and the artist is an expected participant in public debate.
In the early years of Brazilian street art, you were an artist in Brazil, if you were “mad at the government and wrote something on the wall”. Street art was as much a socio-political movement as a cultural phenomenon. It came from the people and reflected their values, and it returned to them to beautify their communities.
As a younger man, Estenio worked in the Brazilian graphic design and fashion industries, and as a tattoo artist in the world-famous neighbourhood of Vila Madalena, with its galleries, bars, and bohemia; and bursting with street art at every turn. So immersed, it was only a matter of time before he took his talents to the streets.
Drawing the eye is the first art lesson, Estenio says, and a single eye is a familiar and recurring motif in his work. For Estenio, the eye speaks to the uniqueness of the beholder. More philosophically, it speaks to human subjectivity. The eye in his work is Every Eye, including the viewer’s eye. Estenio believes that each person has their own unique encounter with and understanding of his art: “In the tunnel of the iris, I see a moment of hypnosis”, he says.
Although Estenio describes his art as free-style, there’s a balance (or a tension) in his work between artifice and nature, symmetry and asymmetry, meditation and spontaneity. For Estenio, there is preparing to paint and then there is painting: thought and planning go into every piece, but there’s also the moment, the situation: “I like to enjoy the wall”, he says.
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