Upperplayground News

Upper Playground Exclusive: Interview with Bicicleta Sem Freio

Brazilian duo, Bicicleta Sem Freio (BSF) landed in San Francisco this month to prepare for their first ever US solo show at Fifty24SF Gallery titled “This Is Not A Poster”.

Widely recognized for their colorful illustrations and murals around the world, the two master illustrators are taking “This Is Not A Poster” as an opportunity to meditate on the art of poster making to present a new body of original work.

In anticipation of the show opening this week, we ask BSF a few questions to better understand their practice and chemistry of how two talented artists work together as “Bicicleta Sem Freio”.

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Interview by Jy-Ah Min for Upper Playground

J: We are excited to present original works by BSF for the first time in the US. Tell us a bit about the origin of the name, Bicicleta Sem Freio which translates to “Bicycles Without Breaks”. When did the name emerge?

BSF: The name came about when we were in college, we went to a congress of students, we saw many lectures professionals and decided to come together and work. At first we wanted a very unpretentious and fun name. We had no idea what was going to happen after.

J: So Art, Design and Rock & Roll. How do you combine all these elements in your process?

BSF: We believe that there are no differences between these concepts. Music, art and design are for us completely mixed as they are all part of our day to day life. We have always been doing poster design first for our friends and we love this form of illustration.

J: We often view Art and Illustration as a very subjective and personal process for the artist. So it’s rare to see two individuals work so closely together under one banner. What is the work dynamic like for BSF?

BSF: In the beginning we were designing together, but over time each one developed more personal traits and style. But the process is always shared and jointly agreed. We consult each other a lot. We are our own critics.

J: The title of the show, “This Is Not A Poster” refers to new works that reflect on all the years you’ve spent illustrating posters for music bands and festivals. But these new works have no band and no music behind them right? Or do they?

BSF: People are used to look at posters with an information to read. One of our intention is to hold the viewer, making him look more purely on the visual and feel free to imagine and create his own interpretation of it.

J: It’s interesting to hear that your aim is to free the imaginations of the viewer instead of guiding them to a specific direction.  Could you tell us about how you determine what goes into each work? Is it an instinctive process or more layered and systematic in determining how the details come together?

BSF: Our work is pretty much instinctive and very experimental. We are always adding new elements and taking some off. We try new colors all the time, very weird sometimes and also new patterns too. We don’t have any idea of how it will end up and look like. We try to have fun during the process and to not repeat ourself. If not it will be like a formula and we will be quickly bored and probably our public too.

J: So your visual strategy to hold the viewer results in works that have a lot of random energy, movement and color with a lot of detail. When do you know when it’s done?

BSF: Well its never done to be honest, i could work on these pieces forever as we love details but at some point we need to give up and move mostly because of dead-line (lol) or space on the sheet or canvas!

J: If I am a fly on the wall in your studio, what would I hear?

BSF: We enjoy Hellbenders, its a band from our city.