On Safari in the Concrete Jungle

Portuguese Street Artist Creates Animal Sculptures Out of Recycled Materials as an Environmental Warning

We live in a culture of profligate waste. We continue to consume and pollute at a prodigious rate, despite the continued warnings from scientists about potential climate disaster. Bordalo II’s series Big Trash Animals is certainly a unique way of making use of some of that waste. He anthropomorphises the rubbish and industrial off cuts including damaged car bumpers, burnt garbage cans, tires and electrical appliances, to give our gross societal habits a very striking face.

“The idea behind the series is to depict nature itself, in this case animals, using the materials that are responsible for its destruction,” he explains.

It’s certainly both a poignant and powerful message which his awe-inspiring sculptures hammer home. By transforming the city streets into a menagerie of oversized animals, Bordalo II offers a stark reminder of what we might lose if we don’t act on climate change, their scale of course dwarfed by the size of the problem we face.

We got Bordalo II to open up about his work:

The Plus: How did you get into street art? From a graffiti or more traditional art background?
Bordalo II:
I started out writing graffiti illegally. I had lots of funny experiences and went through many scary situations. As I got older I suppose I just began to have other objectives and motivations.

TP: What’s so special about doing works of art in public spaces?
For me public space gives you the possibility to communicate with wider society directly, allowing you to approach important themes and topics, and hopefully really make people think.

TP: Are your street pieces commissioned? If so, what’s that process like?
Some of them are. My process is this: find a suitable space, collect the materials I need, decide which image to shape, fix the materials to the wall and then paint on top of them.

TP: If you had to choose one, the gallery or the street?
Both, you simply can´t compare. More detailed and fragile pieces just can’t be left in the street. On the other hand, some big installations don’t feel right, or might not fit, in a gallery. I believe both spaces can complement each other.

TP: Favourite artists at the minute?
Farewell, Vik Muniz, Banksy to name just a few.