Marginal Heroes

The “Marginal Heroes” project aims to explore the visual languages, the use of hybrid technologies and preservation actions of Brazilian graphic patrimony, memory and identity.

Created in

São Paulo, 2012-15


Poster + Exhibition

Quick, cheap and disposables, typographic posters resist heroically in their marginality. In the margins of production system, of printing industry, of urban legislation, design, art, marketing, stubbornly challenge and effectively to technology, culture and aesthetics. Compared with the rusticity of the Wheatpaste poster, the precision of offset is numeric, almost abstract, their physicality is in its total control of the processes, formats, supports and prints. Direct heir of lithography, their current expression is the digital though: is no longer limited by technical but by broadcasting  space and copyright.

The exhibition “Marginal Heroes” investigates this approach starting from the poster, expanding and recontextualizing its syntax, language and production technique. Displaced from the urban environment and devoid of their first function of immediate or commercial information, the series of works that compose the show at the same time obeys and subverts some procedures arising from the engraving, painting, design, the monotype. Produced in series, however each is a single piece which, despite the architectural design planning, the result is random, empirical, unpredictable. From a technical point of view, the opposition between digital image precision and control and rudimentary imprecision of analog print generate friction and energy in that two-dimensional graphical surface.


At the same time it is a work of high concept and low printing, resulting in a process that combines traditional typography with wooden and lead letters on digital prints of large format (66 x 96 cm). The production process of the original work by Rico Lins, starting point of the project was possible thanks to the long collaboration with Gráfica Fidalga – one of the last holdouts of letterpress printing in large format in São Paulo.

Having motto for the recurring phrase “Be Marginal Be Hero,” it is a tribute to the Bandeira-Poema by Hélio Oiticica. The Helium motto serves as a starting point for an investigation of typographical and pictorial dimensions of marginality. Mixing portraits come from a gallery of heroes and marginals, it creates a vibrant mesh of pixelated photos and blurred ink, word and image, collage and grid.

The first version of the installation “Marginal Heroes” was originally conceived as part of the exhibition “From the Margin to the Edge”, opened at Somerset House in London where he stayed between July and September 2012. Its continuation was given the following year in Buenos Aires and Berlin, and first performed in Brazil in an exhibition at the gallery Amparo 60, integrated with art activities and education that has Funcultura resources.

The exhibition deepens the making process of the work and extends his view and scope to invite two artists from Pernambuco to be involved in it. On one hand the analog process interacts with a series of work woodblocks of traditional xylographs by J. Borges. On the other, the digital environment is dematerialised and incorporates the error, failure and noise through the application for smartphones designed for HD Mabuse.

Marginal Heroes and its processes

Staying true to the typographic tradition, Fidalga manually produces the posters in a German machine of the 1920s Responsible for a wide variety of Wheatpaste posters, used to dress the walls of the city with direct messages in bold letters. Precarious and disposables, announcing rallies to popular shows, attracting the attention of young groups of artists involved with poetry and street art. Fundamental piece in visual puzzle of São Paulo, suffered direct action of the Clean City Law, which from 2007 began to forbid them and the printing house almost closed the doors. Today, the Fidalga works mainly with artists and galleries.

The first professional contact of Rico Lins with Fidalga took place in the early 2000s, with a series of posters created for the exhibition “Brazil in Posters”, which was organized in Chaumont, France. With an intricate layout – text in French and Portuguese, different sizes, distributed vertically, horizontally or inverted – assembling the text matrix changed the practice of composition to which they were habituated.

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Somerset House Gallery – London

In 2012, dozens of original posters were glued directly to the walls of the gallery, referring to the gluing process of posters. To remove them, only tearing. The assembly became an artistic action, impossible to be repeated with the same configuration.

Centro Metropolitano de Diseño – Buenos Aires

In 2013, the posters occupied the CMD. Hanging from the gallery ceiling, juxtaposed front and back, inviting the viewer to circulate around them, shifting the poster from their context. In the same period, in Berlin, it was seen in the experimental space Nave Atelier.

Galeria Amparo 60 – Recife

In 2015 the exhibition came to Recife, where the work dialogues with local artists and incorporates other languages and new forms of interactivity.

Museu Nacional da República – Brasília

Still in 2015, Marginal Heroes integrated graphicsRCA exhibition: 50 years and beyond – Royal College of Art, with lecture and workshop by Rico Lins

Museu da Casa Brasileira – São Paulo

In 2016, the exhibition displayed in MCB, in line with the 30th edition of the MCB Design Award. The exhibition had guided tour and workshop on posters.