Brazil provides the art world with some of its most dynamic and inspirational graffiti: it features a dramatic use of distinctive colours, symbolism drawn from a rich South American culture, and, most importantly, the emotional responses that dire social iniquities provoke.
Of the three artists featured in this show, which was organised in association with the Brazilian embassy in London, Tinho tackles social and political issues head-on. While his representations of life in the slums of Sao Paolo are superficially simple, his characters and backgrounds portray heart-rending human conditions.
In Tinho's world, children are drawn into prostitution and drug-dealing while their parents helplessly look on. He shows the callous targeting of Sao Paolo's underclass – many too poor even to put a roof over their heads – by global brands through advertising. He brings the lurking dangers of a hostile city to the surface, enlisting the viewer's empathy with the hopelessness of his subjects' lives.
Reducing sociopolitical issues to the level of the individual can sometimes smack of sentimentality, which is a criticism that could be applied to Flip's work. A forest provides the habitat for his surreal cast of characters. South Park-style, faceless hoodies peer through leafless trees. Eyes stare out from hollowed trunks. Sometimes eerie, often pensive and occasionally cute, Flip's subjects are variously threatening and threatened by the ingress of people into their world.
Not so in the work of Pato. In Allegory for Love, a series of panels on the themes of love and sex, his exaggerated forms and tightly rendered symbolism are unmistakably South American, a kind of seaside postcard. It is all well executed and occasionally witty, but he is the least accessible and commercial of the three artists here. His work does, however, possess a genuine sense of place.
Hanging individual works over large-scale murals by the artists themselves gives the impression that there is rather more to this show than there actually is. But a little more content would emphatically confirm the view that Brazil really is the world's leading source of dynamic and inspirational street art. As an introduction to the genre, though, this exhibition does its job adequately enough.
To 30 Apr (020-7399 9282)Reuse content