Sé metro station is one of the busiest transit hubs in São Paulo, with thousands of Paulistas passing through every day. Yet amongst the dizzying urban hustle and bustle, unnoticed and unappreciated by many stressed-out commuters, looms a large and intriguing modernist mural that looks like a bizarre mix between a Diego Rivera masterpiece and a scene out of a dystopian sci-fi film.
The mural, created in the late 1970s, portrays the brutality of the Portuguese colonization of Brazil. It depicts the cruelty of the transatlantic slave trade and plantation economy, and the genocidal conquest of the colonial Bandeirantes who exterminated from the face of the earth much of the indigenous population of the country.
In a bizarre juxtaposition, also portrayed is a vision of a dystopian future with man-machine hybrids that seem straight out of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis or Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, and a bespectacled pistol-wielding figure who resembles a James Bond villain emerging from the shadows.
The artist, Mário Gruber Correia, was a personal friend of the famous Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, who was evidently an inspiration for elements of the Sé mural. However, much of the mural’s meaning remains shrouded in esoteric symbolism. Perhaps most mysterious of all is the artwork’s title: “As always, tomorrow is in our hands.”
Know Before You Go
You can find the mural in the Sé metro station, on the red and blue lines. The station is located under the Praça da Sé public square in Sé, the city’s central borough.