Adriano Costa

The urban detritus of Sao Paolo serve as the artist’s main source of inspiration.

Adriano Costa

The Campos Elísios neighborhood of São Paolo, where Adriano Costa keeps a studio, is plagued with drug dealers and crack addicts. But the 39-year-old artist insists that “it’s the most beautiful part of the city.” This bleakness and beauty is mirrored in Costa’s sculptures, which often incorporate objects—old Nike sneakers, broken umbrellas, used concert wristbands—salvaged from the urban detritus. Metals are paired with fabrics; wood and concrete with plastic. Some pieces take on clean, straight lines, while others resemble a pile of garbage. And Costa vacillates freely between the raw and grim (a bronze bowl containing dried urine) and the light and playful (dream catchers, palm trees).

Brazil might seem to be nonstop sunshine, sex, and samba, but it’s the gulf between the rich and the poor that shows up in Costa’s art. “People think Brazilians are happy all the time,” he says. “But there’s a lot of sadness here.” And Costa is not one to sit idly by. He is in his studio every morning at 7:30; last year he participated in 14 exhibitions in 10 cities, and he will open a major solo show at Sadie Coles gallery in London on August 28 (through October 4). Being an artist, he says, “is simply work.”

Costa’s Three Heads—One Is Mine, 2014. Courtesy of Mendes Wood DM, Sao Paulo.

All Over the Map

“There’s a little control—but a lot of chance.” Read more about Israel Lund here. Photograph by Amanda Hakan.

“Jokes and laughter are a way of opening up your subconscious.” Read more about Tala Madani here. Portrait by Adam Laycock.

“I have really intense attachments to every single thing in the work.” Read more about Samara Golden here. Courtesy of the artist.

“I think of my work as paintings, but I have no problem with people calling them sculptures.” Read more about Justin Adian here. Photograph by James McKee.

“The images are old, ancient even. But the way they’re all gathered from different places speaks to our world today.” Read more about Kour Pour here. Photograph by Stephanie “Elle” Quintana.

“People think Brazilians are happy all the time, but there’s a lot of sadness here.” Read more about Adriano Costa here. Courtesy of Mendes Wood DM, Sao Paulo

“I will never be the kind of artist who does one thing.” Read more about Jean-Baptiste Bernadet here. Photograph by Amanda Hakan.