Off The Wall: Michael Jackson in the East Village

Off The Wall: Michael Jackson in the East Village

Best known for his large-scale, vibrant, and dazzlingly kaleidoscopic murals, Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra is at the forefront of a global art movement displayed entirely on the street. Easily identified by his signature technicolor style (which employs repetition of squares and triangles, allowing for a playful-yet-hyper-realistic depiction of his subjects), Kobra gained global recognition for his reinterpretation of Alfred Eisenstadt’s V-J Day in Times Square, 1945, which was installed overlooking The High Line in New York City from 2012 to 2016. By carefully curating subjects ranging from Oscar Nieymeyer to David Bowie and Anne Frank, Kobra’s murals transcend time to highlight history and the people who define it.

To mark Michael Jackson’s diamond birthday, Kobra worked to create and install a five-story mural dedicated to the King of Pop in New York’s East Village. The fresco pays homage to Jackson’s life, splitting his face in half to detail the icon as a young boy (of Jackson 5 fame) and as a fully-grown man. The mural’s timing is significant not only to commemorate Michael Jackson’s diamond birthday on August 29th, but as part of wider celebrations in New York City including the recent #BrooklynLovesMichaelJackson Block Party organized by director Spike Lee. We had a chance to catch up with Kobra, asking him about his work and what’s next, below:

Does music inspire your vibrant, signature style? Music is very important to my work, and in the case of Michael Jackson I think his music inspired several generations of artists. The way he faced life, the racial issues, his passion for preservation and the environment that all passed through to his music influenced me a lot over the years. That’s why I decided to pay homage to him, portraying two phases – both equally important. Michael really influenced my view of the world.

Musicians appear to be influential to your art. What does Michael Jackson mean to you? My mural and tribute to Michael aims to outline what he managed to prove – his innocence and dealing with various psychological problems and his family. I wanted to show not only the idol but also the human being.

How do you choose each location for your murals? How much does each location determine the design of the piece? I prefer to paint in places that I have never visited or been to. I have been to the five continents and my travels are important experiences for me. In terms of location I do not distinguish between poor or rich places.

You have created so many impactful pieces of art located in iconic places. What and where’s next? I do not know exactly what my next challenge will be, but as long as I have the strength to climb the stairs and do my art, I will continue. This is my contribution to humanity, transforming the streets into art galleries.


Visit Kobra’s mural of Michael Jackson in the East Village on East 11th and First Avenue. Click here to learn more about our limited-edition Michael Jackson MW50+ Wireless Headphones.

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