Capoeira Painting Project Large scale art performance

This work is about a community of people creating dynamic paintings using their hands and feet while moving to Brazilian Capoeira rhythms, interacting with each other to produce a visual performance and fresh, spontaneous paintings. The work was conceived by me and performed by Mestre Axé and members of Capoeira Palmares group.

The Capoeira performers have various paint colours rolled onto their hands and feet before joining a continuously flowing game of Capoeira on a canvas, slowly building up a painting with their movements. The marks they make on the canvas are made unconsciously as the performers are more concerned with the game of Capoeira.

The Capoeira performers are accompanied by a live Capoeira rhythm band, consisting of at least six people playing a variety of percussion instruments and singing traditional Capoeira songs in Brazilian-Portuguese.




For more in-depth analysis on this art-project view the Project Proposal Website.

Click the links below to view images and video from the performances:

Portobello Film Festival Performance, 2007 – Photographs

Sadler’s Wells “Brasil Brasileiro” Carnival, 2006 – Photographs

Rhythms of the World Festival, 2006 – Photographs

Kingston Green Fair, 2006 – Photographs

Practice session 2, 2005 – Photographs

Practice session 1, 2005 – Photographs


This project started life as a simple idea that I had made a note of in a sketchbook. A while later, a friend who worked for a big London events company asked me if I knew anyone doing anything creative and slightly different with Capoeira. I told him about my idea and he encouraged me to pursue it.

I quickly realised I had quite a special performance after the first practice session, as there was a palpable ‘high’ in the air among the performers and the audience – it was very exciting. After that time, the project grew as more Capoeira performers got involved and were always keen to do more performances as it was so much fun to do.




We did three major public performances in the summer of 2006, culminating in quite a major performance for Sadler’s Wells dance theatre in London as part of their ‘Brasil Brasileiro’ show.

For the final performance, I wanted to make a film to definitively record this project with the highest possible standards of production. The Portobello Film Festival were extremely keen to make us part of their 2007 programme of events and kindly provided the venue and refreshments. The BBC Multi-Platform Studio AV team supplied cameras and all the technical know-how as well as production and post-production skills.




The painting performance is an event in itself and the finished paintings at the end of the performances are the recording of all of the movements made. These spontaneous marks made by different performers with different colours combine to create visually arresting paintings.

Imagine a group of people, different personalities and flavours, all moving to a rhythm with the same spirit to paint in an unselfconscious way and record these chaotic and organised forces using their bodies as though they were brushes.

The spirit of the Capoeira game is manifested in the painting and as a Capoeirista myself, I wanted to explore and address some deeper subjects connected Capoeira and the nature of creativity.