When I first saw Urso Morto's work I was struck by the bold, dramatic scenes of bears under attack in Sao Paolo. The work is so well crafted, placed and photographed, yet I couldn't find any information about Urso Morto. So when I finally tracked him down I really wanted to do an interview.
What is the story behind your bears - why are they being killed? Who is killing them?
I do not have an answer to your question. My job was not created to answer, it was created to confuse. You'll have to find an answer in your thoughts. If that is really necessary.
Not everything needs an answer, not everything needs to be solved; things are also beautiful when they are incomplete. Sometimes the question is more interesting than the solution.
We humans hunt desperately for an explanation of everything, and the “dead bears” won’t be different.
I had an answer to that question, but I forgot it purposely. And I forgot because this question filled me with doubts. Yeah, I know. That's not what you expected as an answer, is it? The “nothing” bothers, scratches. I know you want an answer, but I do not have one. The “Urso Morto” (dead bear) is not the answer, it is the doubt.
How long have you been working as Urso Morto?
What's the future for the Urso Morto project? What can we expect to see in the future?
I'm looking for something that takes my work from the wall, for example, other elements, different techniques, new concepts. I want to leave aside the spray of graffiti and search for something stronger. I want to make people stop in the street to look at my work, I want to take the bear to their home and their minds, I want a father to comment at dinner with his family that he saw my work on the street. I want to fill people with doubts.
Do you paint only on the street? Is your other work in the same style?
I started to paint in the street and I will paint in the street forever. On the street you have contact with people, the street is for everybody. To paint on the street is to do something in a place where people pass every day, thousands of times, is moving in their lives, and that is perfect.
But nothing prevents me from painting other platforms, so to speak. I paint other things, but nothing equivalent to what I do in the street. I'm looking to make some paintings that I'm doing more striking, more sentimental, but have not found something I like a lot. For now. But I have some cool stuff stored at home.
What do you think of the Sao Paolo street art scene at the moment? Do you collaborate with any other artists?
Sao Paulo is an inspiring place, where you can find everything on the streets. This factor, coupled with the creativity required by the movement of Brazilian graffiti, leaves, in my opinion, the city of Sao Paulo in the position of the graffiti capital.
But at the same time, the “pichação” of Sao Paulo has left the town alert and everything that involves paint and wall is seen as vandalism. In my opinion, the Brazilian people do not like graffiti; it is very rare to see an exhibition, a book or anything that values this kind of art, and the reason is the lack of interest from the people themselves. Brazilians have the habit of thinking that everything is more beautiful if it is international, and the things done here are only good when they are recognized in other countries like Germany, United States, France.
Here in Brazil I was even imprisoned because of my art, and now I have a debt of 12 thousand reais to Brazilian justice because of the "damage" that I made with my art. I bet that if I had exposed my art in New York, London or Paris I would not be considered a thug, but a renowned artist.
Which other artists do you like?
Unfortunately, my knowledge about art is very short. Only now I'm deepening my knowledge and knowing a little more. My roster of artists is still small, I know many street artists and a few artists out of the street art.
The artists outside of street art I like very much are Gustav Klimt and Frida Kahlo, but I have several others that I know and appreciate. I do not have many favorites.
Usually, I like almost everything that is done on the street, so I admire many artists of street art. Currently I have my eye on the work of Banksy, Os Gêmeos and Zopes.
I believe that I still have much to learn and know.
If you could buy any three pieces of art, what would they be?
I can only choose two pieces that represent a lot for me. There are so many that I am in doubt, I need more time to choose. I will choose the third piece when I have more experience.
Two Fridas. Frida Kahlo, 1939
Frida Kahlo is very talented, she paints what comes from her mind, her feelings, and she knows very well how to express it in her paintings. Not to mention the fact that she always paints herself, she is always very present in her paintings and that is very strong. You feel the presence of the artist, the strength of their feelings, their history, their pain and happiness.
The secret of Gabriela. Yusk Imai, 2009
Yusk is a good friend of mine and his work inspires me a lot, especially the way he "behaves" as an artist. My admiration is regarding the evolution of his work, in how he makes a simple thing into something totally special, how he really makes art.
Outside of art, what influences you?
I care a lot about the beliefs of the people, the things that sustain their lives, their dreams, their desires, their troubles, especially their personal fears.
What everyone should know is...
Not everything has an answer.
See older work by Urso Morto here, and keep an eye on his website here.