Eduardo Kobra headed to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, ready to set a new world record at this year’s Olympic Games. Given that the quadrennial competition is considered the world’s most prestigious sporting event, Kobra’s high expectations weren’t unusual. But Kobra isn’t an athlete—he’s a graffiti artist.
The 40-year-old Brazilian artist arrived in Rio earlier this summer to start work on a truly massive mural. After two months of planning and painting, his masterpiece was finally unveiled on July 30, a week before the Olympic opening ceremony. The mural was larger than life, measuring over 620 feet in length, towering 40 feet high, and covering nearly 31,700 square feet in area. If it’s recognized by the Guinness World Records, Kobra’s creation will nearly double the existing record held by an 18,062-square-foot mural painted in Mexico seven years ago.
Kobra’s mural adorns the side of an abandoned warehouse in Rio’s historic port district. Before he could start spray painting, Kobra and his team first had to repair parts of the concrete wall and cover it with a base coat of white paint. Only then could they begin creating the distinct images that Kobra is known for—striking black and white portraits against colorful, checkered backgrounds that have repeated geometric shapes. The mural is so expansive that Kobra and his team had to use seven hydraulic lifts to paint the two-story building. They used a total of 100 gallons of white paint, 400 gallons of colored paint, and more than 3,500 cans of spray paint!
The mural is called Etnias, which means “ethnicities” in Portuguese. Kobra chose the name to reflect what he painted—the faces of five indigenous people from around the world. “The five characters represent the five continents,” says Kobra. “The concept was based on the five Olympic rings.”
Two faces represent women from the Mursi tribe in Ethiopia and the Kayin tribe in Thailand, while the other three are Supi, Huli, and Tapajós men from Europe, Papua New Guinea and Brazil, respectively. “They symbolize the union of the people,” Kobra says.
“We’ve all got the same origins so we have to get along, not only during the Olympics Games, but always,” says Kobra. “We should always stand for world peace. We are all connected.”