Art & Design

Brazilian Graffiti Artist Nina Pandolfo Paints the Lower East Side

Art & Design

Brazilian Graffiti Artist Nina Pandolfo Paints the Lower East Side

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Recognized as one of Brazil’s most significant graffiti artists, Nina Pandolfo has garnered global praise for her highly technical, detailed work. The painter fell into art at an early age, later helping lead the Brazilian artist generation of the 1990’s—a movement that found Pandolfo working with notable artists including Os Gemeos and Nunca, who’re both credited for bringing street art to major museums. Decades later, Pandolfo’s acclaimed work has been displayed in galleries across the world from Germany to Cuba, Spain to Greece.

A true woman of the world, Pandolfo will grace the Lower East Side with her paintbrush, creating an original mural on the Rivington Wall across from the Rivington Street Gallery, where an exhibition of her most recent work is housed. Featuring “canvases dipped in a fantasy world, estranged of time and place,” the exhibition is Pandolfo’s debut solo exhibition in New York, inspired by the lightness and beauty of simplicity.

“It is about the little details, little things that sometimes pass unnoticed in our life, although it is often in these small details where we find and recognize the joy, peace or even a moment of purity,” Pandolfo describes.

We caught up with the artist ahead of her gallery opening to discuss inspiration, the Lower East Side and painting residential homes in Cuba. Nina Pandolfo’s “The Little Things For Life” opens Thursday Nov. 5 from 6 – 8 pm at the Rivington Street Gallery, 2 Rivington Street, and will run until Nov. 29.

The “little things” in life inspired this body of work. Why was this creative catalyst important to you? 

“I can always find good vibes and positive feelings in little things. As a child, we enjoy every single detail—an insect like a ladybug or the petals of a flower.  All of these little things drive our imagination. As we grow older, we often forget to enjoy these little and simple things in life.”

What’re some of the little things in life you enjoy most?

“The moment when I am in a garden and look up at the tree upside-down or observe the drifting clouds, the flowers, the small creatures in the grass. I can spend a lot of time like this. Another simple thing is to stay with my parents or friends and enjoy the signs of my love toward them.”

Talk more about your use of the light-absorbing ink that glows in the dark. How does this affect your work?

“It is a very important part of the painting, as some details on the canvas will only come out when it is dark. As a child I loved to fantasize in the darkness and to play with shadows. Everything becomes magical, special and particular in the darkness. I wanted to share this feeling with others—a state of dream.”

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Speaking to the Rivington St. Gallery mural, do you find yourself to be responding to the neighborhood while creating this piece? How is the LES inspiring your work? 

“To paint in a place like Rivington Street inspires me for its life. To paint here also gives me inspiration that I will keep for future works: People passing by, their reaction and comments, everything. There is a lot of influence going on that doesn’t count only for the wall but for other works, too.”

What is the craziest thing you’ve been able to paint a mural onto?

“Making some murals in Cuba was crazy. I remember one day I started painting something small in the street and many people stopped and stared at me. There was one mother who especially caught my attention. She showed her daughter how I had ‘magical stuff’ in my hands that presses ink out. At that time, they didn’t have sprays in Cuba and we had to import all material for the walls project. I ended up painting almost the whole street; everyone asked me to do something on their house.”

Reflecting on your work, what do you think has most informed your very distinct aesthetic? 

“Well, there is a lot of myself in my paintings and how I paint. I don’t know how to answer this differently than that it is part of me. It is me.”