Bordalo II: plastic waste is beastly!
The Lisbon-based artist Bordalo II turns plastic waste into material for his works. The street is his playground and our rubbish bins the breeding ground for his artistic creations. His monumental sculptures of brightly-coloured animals constitute a powerful, imaginative manifesto against the damage Humans are inflicting on nature and the animal kingdom.
In Lisbon, opposite the Belem Cultural Centre, at the heart of a bustling tourist district, a giant raccoon made from worn tyres, car bumpers and electronic components stares down at passersby. It bears the original stamp of Bordalo II, a native artist and talented master of recycling and street art.
Like a modern-day La Fontaine, this passionate storyteller decided to let city walls and animals “speak out” against the wildly destructive practices of the humans who share their planet… They may be silent, but his sculptures could hardly be more explicit. « I use materials that destroy animals to create my works of art, » the artist explains, because « animals are characters that are easy for the public to identify with, when my goal is to show the damage our society causes to nature« . From city to city, foxes, owls, bears and chameleons all convey the same message: our consumer society poses a serious threat to the planet and it’s high time we started looking after Nature!
“I want to create animals out of the very things that are killing them, pollution and plastic waste.”
Did you say Bordalo II?
This young Portuguese artist, 32, is the grandson of Artur Real Bordalo, a well-known watercolourist who is now deceased. It was the grandfather who inspired his pseudonym, Bordalo II. From the age of just 11, the budding artist began creating urban art in the streets of Lisbon. He discovered sculpture during his time as a student at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Lisbon. « One day I just started putting together the objects I’d collected and set aside, thinking I’d create a medium on which to paint,” he told Agence France-Presse during a trip to Paris. « And I realised I could use those objects to create something interesting from an aesthetic point of view that would also carry meaning.” His ecological convictions provided a logical next step: “I use my work to convey ideas and concerns, and to open people’s eyes to the global issues we’re facing: global warming and climate change, wide-scale extinction, deforestation, water shortage, pollution, etc.,” the artist stressed.
Street artist and globe-trotter
Since 2013, Bordalo II has installed some 130 works in cities located in 23 different countries, to raise the alarm.
The artist’s most recent personal exhibition, held in Paris and hosted by Mathgoth Gallery from 26 January to 2 March, drew a lot of attention. Mischievously entitled “Paris Agreement”, the exhibition included thirty or so animal sculptures from the “Trash animals” series, all made from waste products.
Bordalo II offers our society a harshly realistic mirror of itself, while adorning our cities with a vibrantly colourful, eye-catching menagerie. Far from being pessimistic, his art offers a powerful message of hope: with a bit of imagination, humans can breathe new life into what they have destroyed, and make something beautiful out of something ugly.