Urban Art takes over the House of Switzerland

Aug 16, 2016

ACME, a self taught plastic and graffiti artist, is worldwide known as a leading pioneer in the Rio de Janeiro street art scene. Carlos Esquivel, which is his former name, has showcased his art in the streets of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo  and exhibited in galleries across France and Argentina.  ACME presented two canvas that have been exclusively designed for the House of Switzerland, blending together Swiss and Brazilian elements.  During a live graffiti show he offered the House of Switzerland visitors to experience  his work in real time on two fibre-cows. We had the pleasure to chat with ACME  and hear how art manages to change lives.


How was it for you to exhibit your art at the House of Switzerland? 

It has been an extraordinary experience for me, as I’ve gotten the chance to discover myself an unknown culture. When I first started preparing the canvas, I’ve immersed into this little swiss village to get a feeling for the environment I work in. Bringing the two tennis stars on canvas and placing them amidst the typical rio scenery and on a glacier with a traditional swiss cottage, made it almost look like a switch in time. 


What piece of mind would you give an aspiring graffiti artist? 

I used to sell cake and popsicles at the beach and polish shoes. I managed to transform what once used to be perceived as crime, to be considered art. I see myself as someone who had a vision and focused on it, amidst all these obstacles. When I first started, there were only a few out there and I’ve got arrested a couple of times. To be a pioneer isn’t all that fun. There are different generations and we’ve only passed through one of them so far. Now its time to face a new set of misconceptions and prejudices and a new group of emerging artists, are eager to overcome these obstacles and enter the market. 


You were born and raised in the community Pavão-Pavãozinho and participated in diverse projects in several communities in Rio de Janeiro. One project was the Circus “Casas-Telas” on concrete walls as well as the Favela Museum at Cantagalo,  which has been brought to live by you. How was it to bring back your art to your own roots? 

It has been fundamentally important for the arts’ progress inside the favelas, to make art accessible and for the community to discover their own history. So people get to know that the community used to be a quilombo, with its roots within the Candomblé and offered a safe place to escaped slaves and other minorities. But today the majority of the inhabitants belong to evangelical communities. Or to meet the elder community members and hear how they used to fetch water from the nearby Lagoa before the streets arrived.


What are your future plans? 

The goal is to keep up the work and manage to establish the independent institution “Ninho das Águias" in the heart of the favela and on top of the hill, which coincidentally happens to mean favela in greek. I want to boost the investment of access to culture and education in the communities. They do posses a stunning panorama, which unfortunately happens to be clouded by all the trash and litter. Using my visibility as an artist to make people go up and explore the communities is just as important as the political portray of the community. I use my work to transmit the right message from the communities and represent a forward looking vision, holding above all the social utility of my art for the society.



If you want to get to know ACME’s worker better don’t hesitate to follow him on Instawalk Rio, an urban art walking route designed to get to know Rio’s city center through the various artists’ eyes, as ACME, Luiz Zerbini, Raul Mourão, Rita Wainer and Vik Muniz.