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Pichação is frequent in São Paulo and other Centre-Southern Brazilian cities.

Pichação,[1][2] sometimes misspelt[3][4] as pixação, (Portuguese pronunciation: [piʃaˈsɐ̃w̃]) is a unique form of graffiti native to the Southeastern metropolises of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil. It consists of tagging done in a distinctive, cryptic style, mainly on walls and vacant buildings. Many pichadores (pichação painters) compete to paint in high and inaccessible places, using such techniques as free climbing and abseiling to reach the locations.


Pichação, known also as "wall writings", began in the 1940s and 50s as political statements written in tar and “were often written in response to the slogans painted by political parties across the streets.”[5] “Piche” is the Portuguese word for pitch or tar, so pichação refers to writings made with it. In the 1970s, pichação almost disappeared, however it was revived in the 1980s by a group of kids who began writing their names, and the names of their crews, instead of political slogans.[5]

Although pichação is no longer made up of political statements, but names, it is still a social statement.

Pichação is a “vehicle for the youth of the city to assert their existence and self-worth, and to do it loudly. As a social protest, Pichação is brutal, effective and pulls no punches. There is no country on earth with a worse distribution of wealth than Brazil. For the rich, there are nice buildings. For the poor, there are shanty towns. Pichação exists on the very surface of the constested wealth, and promises to keep on punishing the fortunate until they produce a world less punishing to begin with.”[5]

"Pichação" is first and foremost a result of the lack of a decent public education system in Brazil, which produces large numbers of illiterate or semi-illiterate youngster with no prospect of obtaining adequate jobs. For lack of instruction or training, many teenagers in large metropolitan areas end up involved in all kinds of illicit activities, from petty theft to drug trafficking. In this context, "Pichação" is little more than a minor form of misconduct and part of the urban chaos found in Brazilian cities.

Public reaction

File:Sao vito2.JPG
An entire building face covered with pichação (this building is now demolished)

Pichação, in relation to murals or other types of graffiti, “is at times a tough sell even to graffiti aficionados, but anyone painting in the streets of Brazil must give it a tip of the hat, for it certainly makes other street artwork, rudely illegal or otherwise, appear a generous community service in comparison.”[5]


Although its name is derived from the word for tar, many of the “pichadores” (those who do pichação) in São Paulo use a 2-3 inch foam roller, spray paint and latex paint. In other cities, such as Rio de Janeiro, pichadores use only spray paint. Many pichadores write their crew name, while others write their own individual name. The letters are usually of equal height and spacing, although technique varies in different cities around Brazil. Although the lettering originally reflected the typography of eighties heavy metal record covers, the styles have evolved over time.[5]

Pichadores often compete to tag the tallest, most dangerous, and most noteworthy locations. One example of this is the group Os Diferentes, who tagged the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, a national and international symbol of Brazil. Although caught and arrested, they bragged about it the next day.[5]


  1. Aulete Dictionary: pichação
  2. Priberam Dictionary: pichação
  3. UOL Educação: "Pichador" derives from "piche" (Portuguese)
  4. Dúvidas de português: Piche or pixe (Portuguese)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Manco, Tristan, Lost Art, and Caleb Neelon; “Graffiti Brasil”, Thames & Hudson, London, 2005 (ISBN 0-500-28574-8)

External links