An urban intervention, aiming to honor Brazil, has become the obsession of Chilean-born artist Jorge and is now one of the most original tourist points in Rio de Janeiro.
SELARÓN’S STAIRWAY (ESCADARIA SELARÓN) was elected the largest sculpture created by one single artist by National Geographic. It has 215 steps and is 125m long, all made with different and colorful tiles representing several countries and the local culture. Some he painted himself, others are just red.
It all started in the World Cup of 1990 when Jorge Selarón, painter and ceramist, used more than two thousand tiles coming from sixty countries to decorate the stairway and surrounding houses. The set of steps, which were abandoned, dirty and frequented by drunk people and bums, has become a world-famous masterpiece. That scary place changed the life of the artist and the street.
In 2005 the City Hall declared the stairway a National Historic Heritage and Selarón received the title of Honorary Citizen of Rio de Janeiro. Worldwide admirers have been sending tiles up until now, and the work is constantly renewed by the artist. He lives there and cleans the steps everyday; he poses for pictures and invites people to visit his atelier.
The painter has several works of art in the neighborhoods of Lapa and Santa Teresa, but he became famous for Steps of Convent of Santa Teresa (Escadaria do Convento de Santa Teresa). Pregnant women and life in the inner-city slum are present elements in his art. He created the technique of continuously changing the tiles, so the piece of art has a unique, alive and ever-changing energy. Going down the stairs has a soothing vibe; at first you cannot even realize the color of the steps, but after you get past the first flight of stairs and look back, the view is amazing. You get more excited as you notice each new detail, until you reach the foot of the stairs and see the greatness of it all.
Another characteristic of Selarón is the excessive use of red in his outfits, his art and everything around him. Completely unaware of that, I went down the stairs wearing a red dress, matching the scenario.
In the middle of the stairs I saw people taking pictures with a serious man with a mustache, all dressed in red. It was Jorge Selarón himself, putting his hand in the air and sticking his tongue out to take pictures. I am not the kind of person that asks to take picture with celebrities, but I could not resist the harmony and aesthetics of the moment. I sat by his side, put my hand in the air and stuck my tongue out.
Know more about the artist and his work.
Whoever buys Jorge Selarón’s tiles, pictures and postcards helps keeping the work and takes the history to other parts of the planet. The address below is from the street where the stairway and atelier are.
To support the project send your tile to:
Rua Manoel Carneiro 24, Lapa – Rio de Janeiro-RJ. CEP: 20021-360
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org© All rights reserved. Pictures and report 100% originals. Photos by Roberta Martins and Leandro Gabrieli.<