This year I had the great honor and pleasure to work on a dream project for a dream team. I have been commissioned by Citi to create 3 mosaic murals for the Rio 2016 USA House. I have collaborated with the amazing creatives of Publicis One Team in New York City to create 3 mosaic murals to decorate the roof gardens of the seven-story marble-clad school building right on Ipanema Beach that is home to Team USA’s Olympic athletes during the 2016 Rio games.
The idea was to pay a tribute to the city of Rio public art, the centuries long tradition of the Portuguese (and Brazilian) ceramic art and the modern street art of the US. You can read more about the roots of this work on the inspiration section bellow.
Let's see the 3 murals first:
This is the outside wall mural of the roof garden. It's a 13.6 m x 2.7 m (44'6" ft x 9' ft) mosaic showing 8 champions from the Olympic and Paralympic Team USA.
These are the 2 inside wall murals, showing 8 athletes in action. The length of the 2 combined murals is 13.6 m x 2.74 m (42' ft x 9' ft) and decorate the covered wall of the roof garden where the athletes relax looking at the Ipanema beach.
These are the 3D renderings of the actual spaces with the murals. (Courtesy by Publicis One Team)
And here you can see some photos from the mounting of the art and the final spaces.
(Photos by Bob Zeltmann, Tissi Valente and RTobias)
The finished spaces waiting for the athletes.
You can see some details of the mosaic murals:
And here are some sources of inspiration for this job.
First the famous Escadaria Selarón, also known as the 'Selaron Steps'. The Chilean born artist Jorge Selarón was working on this project for more than 20 years, claiming it as his tribute to the Brazilian people.
Then there were the famous stone pavements from Ipanema or Copacabana. This is actually the Brazilian version of the traditional Portuguese pavement, an art that comes from the ancient Greece or Messopotamia.
As you can easily understand the broken grid system of Selaron's steps and Rio's pavements serves as the basis for my mosaics. I have even tried to use some parts from the original artworks wanting to pay a real tribute to the artists.
Of course speaking for Brazilian art we can't ignore the Azulejos, the great Portuguese school of ceramic tile art. Parts from Azulejos have been used to fill the mosaic tiles.
Of course this great latin arts have influenced many artists all over the world. Here you can see the influence on these famous Rainbow steps in San Francisco, California.
Hope you liked this work. It took me a lot of time and a lot of studies and efforts to complete.
I have to sincerely thank the great team at Publicis One Team, Bob, Veronica, Alice, Elaine and everyone else.
Many thanks to Citi, Nike and all other respected sponsors of Team USA.
Last but not least thanks to all great Brazilian, Portuguese, Chilean, Spanish, American, Greek, Roman, Ottoman, Persian and artists from all over the world and eras. They have contributed to mosaic arts their talent, their knowledge, their skills and their ideas. I am feeling so lucky that I can continue this art form.
Enjoy Rio! Enjoy the Olympics!
Αρχαίο Πνεύμα αθάνατο, αγνέ πατέρα του ωραίου, του μεγάλου και του αληθινού,
Κατέβα, φανερώσου κι άστραψε εδώ πέρα στη δόξα της δικής σου γης και τ' ουρανού.
O Ancient immortal Spirit, pure father of beauty, of greatness and of truth,
Descend, reveal yourself and flash like lightning here, within the glory of your own earth and sky.
— Kostis Palamas.