Thiago Ritual is an artist, photographer, activist and free skater from São Paulo, Brasil. Having spent some years in Dublin, he became a notable regular on the Irish art scene, working with the Little Green Street Gallery, Abbey Gallery, Cabra Park Urban Gallery and numerous festivals and regeneration projects. His bright and colourful mural can be seen on New Street and is sponsored by Geoffs Bar.
Welcome to Waterford Walls! How did you hear about the festival?
As I used to live in Ireland and I think that I was part of the graffiti and art street scene in Dublin, I have good friends like Iljin, Kathrina Rupit, DMC, and JMK. The first time I saw something of the festival was because the JMK posted something, and here we are!
What were you looking forward to most at Waterford Walls 2016?
I was very excited to be part of the second year of the festival and be able to return to my second home – Ireland! I was looking forward to doing my best wall ever and seeing all my artist friends.
When and where did you first start creating art?
I first started with skateboarding when I was 11 years old, and the skateboarding world has several artistic influences, but when I was 15 years old I started working in a photographic studio as a photographer’s assistant. I think that’s when I really started to think that my drawings and collages may be some form of art!
Are there any particular artists or cultures that have influenced your work?
Brazilian favela (slum) culture, and also I love the artwork of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Amedeo Modigliani, Romuald Hazoumé, Kudzanai Chiurai, Vik Muniz, Alice Maher, Wesley Duke Lee, Marcus Vinícius Enivo, Mundano, Conor Harrington, Ai Weiwei, Tomie Ohtake, Sesper, Mark Oblow, Spike Jonze, Mark Gonzales (‘Gonz’) and all the young artists!
How has your work evolved over time?
I think my art has evolved according to time, place and people I have met. In Brazil, I learned a lot about photography, but I also worked for some artists as an assistant, where I had access to good books, materials, and techniques. My time in Ireland between 2010 and 2014 was also very important because it was where I matured with my art.
What inspires you today?
Brazilian favela (slum) culture and nature in general, but especially nature in Ireland and here in my neighbourhood, Grajaú, in São Paulo, where besides being between two lakes, we have waterfalls and dense forest an hour away. I think the combination of nature and chaos is very inspiring to me. In a city with more than 20 million people (São Paulo), imagine the nature with chaos…
Do you have a favourite project or one that stands out to you?
Looking at all the projects I’ve done so far, what I liked most were two: one was the mural I did for the 2014 sustainability facing (virada sustentável) in São Paulo, and the same year I also did an installation in an old factory in São Paulo (Casa das Caldeiras). I am now thinking that this wall for Waterford Walls could be the one!
Do you have a tag name? Where does it come from?
The Ritual name actually comes from a name that is Ritual Herbs, and when I started doing graffiti in São Paulo you kind of have to have a tag that is not your proper name. I was listening to a Cypress Hill CD and I saw that name in the album liner notes, and today I am called me Thiago Ritual and Herbs turned my traditional tag.
We launched this year’s festival with a discussion on the creative economy. What do you see as the artist’s role in society?
In my neighbourhood, Grajaú, we already do a lot of creative economy! It is up to each artist to do something, but unfortunately, art is sometimes just ego and aesthetics.
What is the best part about what you do? How about the worst?
The best is that I do what I love. The worst is that it’s not an easy life!
What does the future hold for you and your art? Do you have a dream project?
At the moment, I’m very happy to go to Europe, paint in some countries and participate in Waterford Walls. These are some of the projects I’m most excited about. To be in a place where I lived for almost five years, I think this wall will be very important to me! I’m also working on my next solo show for 2018, which will be called ‘Consume’.
Thanks a million
Go raibh maith agat