Meet Michel Torres Costa, a Brazilian artist whose spectacular scrap metal sculptures went viral during the pandemic.
Michel Torres Costa comes from a humble family in a small town in the southeast of Brazil.
A few years ago his life completely changed when his artistic creations made of waste metal garnered millions of viewers on social media.
“I was kind of sad with my job,” says Michel, who began working as a welder aged 15. “So, I was looking for something to escape and when I was younger I was always into art.
“I started to think: why not use metal? I went to my brother-in-law's workshop. He had some spare materials and I asked him what was he going to do with them. He told me they would be going to waste. So I brought them home and started creating my first pieces.”
From junkyard to art
Michel fell in love with the concept of transforming junk into surprising and impressive works of art.
The themes of his creations are often related to Renaissance and Greek art, depicting gods, angels, animals and human anatomy, all created by meticulously piecing together scraps of metal, such as old pipes, bike chains or cutlery.
To find useful materials for his art, Michel made connections with the owners of local junkyards.
“I always look for something that refers to a face, an eye, a mouth, a nose," says Michel. "I like pieces that make the work more organic, which are the smaller pieces, such as nuts and bolts, washers.”
Each creation typically takes between 40 and 60 days to complete.
“Everything that a person thinks is garbage can be transformed into something with meaning and transformed into art, with beauty, giving a new face to a material that would never be used again, or would be rolling around, polluting our world,” he adds.
The power of going viral
Michel began making his art for himself, with no real intention of selling it but then he began to use social media to post videos of his work.
“People started to like, comment and share my work and I thought that was very crazy,” he explains.
That’s when the pandemic hit.
“I thought everything was over and that was when it boomed... my work began to go viral."
Michel wonders if this explosion of interest was due to more people being stuck at home, browsing social networks. In any case, for him, it was the catalyst that took him from a casual artist to a professional one.
“Art has always flowed through my veins," he admits. "I guess there's no plan B. I was born to be an artist... If reincarnation exists, I think I will reincarnate as an artist again.”
Discover Michel's incredible talent by watching the video above.