Cheery ghosts of the Flesh Beck Crew

Cheery multi-coloured ghosts, doll-like Japanese girls, strange zombie babies. If you’ve been anywhere in Rio you will almost certainly have seen the work of the Flesh Beck Crew. I think they’re the best and most consistent street art/graffiti crew in Rio. And they are prolific! 


Here you can see all three of Flesh Beck’s most common characters – the Japanese girl and cheeky ghosts on the right and the zombie baby on the left. At the very top you can see the freaky clown ball character. I think he may be the work of someone else but he is also very common.


Back when I was living in Gávea I used to walk past an abandoned car on my way to work. Each day I would notice that it had deteriorated a little more until the inevitable – one night it was completely burned out. And then a few days later I saw this:

From an ugly wreck to a cheery feature in one short night.

These guys, who go by the names of Toz (Tomas Viana) and BR, have a pretty decent website and blog and it turns out they actually do quite a lot of commercial stuff too. In fact they’ve even done an advert for Oi, the mobile phone network:

Adverts?! Say it ain’t so…

Does this detract from their credibility? Isn’t street art/graffiti all about anti-establishment, non-commercial, free expression? Still, I guess everyone needs to earn a crust and if you’re a talented artist/illustrator/graphic designer then why can’t you make some money from it? 

Ah well, I’m not going to get bogged down in all that – I like their stuff regardless. And it seems that the guy responsible for the Cloudmen (Piá) is either a part of this collective or at least regularly collaborates. 

If you like this kind of thing then you should definitely check out the ‘Wall of Fame’ opposite Jardim Botanico. I guess if you live in Rio then you’ll almost certainly already know about this, but if you’re dropping in for a visit then check it out – it’s a huge long wall that surrounds the jockey club (race course) and has a lot of interesting and varied graffiti. I’ll leave you with a couple of nice examples from the wall. 

Cloudman strikes again…

2 replies
  1. The Gritty Poet
    The Gritty Poet says:

    I agree with making money from your talents and think these guys are smart for doing so instead of believing that whole anti-establishment boloney and refusing to monitize their art. If Oi thinks what they do has value then a price should be set for it that is acceptable to both parties. The resulting transaction will be mutually beneficial. That being said imagine one of these grafitti dudes receiving their payment from Oi and buying something with it and afterwards having that object tampered with by another person without their consent. Definitely uncool but isn't that what they do to others? It seems they even celebrate this since it provides a sort of added value to their tampering. Personally I think there is something extremely arrogant and authoritarian behind this behavior, regardless of how good the resulting art appears. I realize that in certain situations, like the once concerning the abandoned car, it doesn't even seem like a crime since whoever left that thing there has no appreciation for their follow citizens and prefers to abandon something so others dispose of it and cover the cost. The thing is that these grafitti dudes think all is fair game, or better yet that they get to decide what is fair game. This is why in the end even if, say I with the best of intentions, tampered with that abandoned car the result would be detrimental in the long run since it signals to me that I get to make such decisions. The correct way to deal with it is to see to who the licence plate is registered to and after the city disposes of the vehicle they can fine the infractor.
    I know this seems oh so square but isn't it the fairest and least intrusive way of alleviating urban decadance?

  2. Tom Le Mesurier
    Tom Le Mesurier says:

    Hmmm, interesting points – I find it tricky because I agree with you on the point that it's kind of arrogant and undemocratic. I feel the same way about all that 'Anonymous' hacking stuff – a few uber-nerds decide they don't like something and so they attack it. Sounds all exciting and 'direct-action', but why should they get to decide?

    BUT, on an aesthetic level I've always liked this kind of stuff. I like the ephemeral nature of street art, I like the unpredictability of where and when you might see something new. I think cities (artificial and often very ugly anyway) are enriched when the graffiti is 'good'. Of course that brings me back to your point – who decides what is good? As much as I like the stuff I like, I hate the sh*tty scrawly tags that are all over the outside of the otherwise beautiful apartment that I rent.

    Because it takes so long to do something decent, I think a lot of what I judge to be 'good' is also legally authorised which doesn't in my mind detract from its 'goodness'.

    But, to muddy the water some more, do we want to live in a world where only art that has been officially sanctioned by the people who make and enforce the rules is allowed? Of course cheeky ghosts aren't exactly politically charged, but there is a lot of great (unauthorised) street art that is saying something that almost certainly wouldn't be granted the space if official application was made, whether it be Banksy stuff:

    Or the ubiquitous (mostly text) political messages/protests all over Latin America:


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