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When a House is More Than a Home

When commuting around São Paulo, whether by foot, bike, or car, you are almost guaranteed to spot a little yellow house graffitied onto a telephone pole or a random wall. But are you familiar with the story behind these city-wide symbols?



Mauro Neri is a Brazilian graffiti artist and educator whose trademark iconography can be seen throughout São Paulo, Brazil, as well as the world at large. His work asks viewers to reflect on their relationship with the city and the people in it. Neri’s little yellow houses challenge viewers to think about the concept of “home” and their connection to it.

Mauro Neri and his little yellow houses

These houses are sometimes depicted as backpacks in order to emphasize the importance of housing and the shelter it offers us—and the reality that many in São Paulo literally carry their homes on their backs. Neri has taken this concept of home one step further with his stunning new mural “Preta Solar”, painted on the façade of the Museu Da Cidade in the center of São Paulo in January of 2023. The beautiful painting is a captivating portrait of the city personified as a woman carrying São Paulo on her back.



His work asks viewers to reflect on their relationship with the city and the people in it.
Preta Solar painted on the façade of the Museu Da Cidade

While Neri’s work has always caught my attention, knowing more about the meaning behind his messages has allowed me to see the city in a new way. His signature phrase veracidade is a play on words. The word means ‘conforming to facts and accuracy’ in Portuguese, but it also breaks down into the phrase “ver a cidade” or “see the city”.


As you travel around the communities of São Paulo, I encourage you to “ver a cidade” as well, and see the juxtaposition that surrounds us.

 

Images used with permission of Mauro Neri. Photos originally posted on Instagram.



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