I had already visited Rio de Janeiro in 2000. That time something went completely unnoticed to me: the stairs made by Selarón in Lapa neighbourhood. This piece of art started with the Chilean artist renovating the stairs in the street that run in front of his house 20 years ago. First he used tiles with the colours of the flag of Brazil. The stairs are still unfinished and according to the artist they will only be finished the day of his death.
The stairs have something that I really found special and addictive: the artist is currently using tiles from different parts of the world, depicting:
- countries (Croatia, Portugal, Costa Rica…),
- cities (Toulouse, Berlin, DC…),
- famous monuments of cities (Puerta de Alcalá – Madrid, tramway in Alfama – Lisbon, Torre del Oro – Seville, Mecca),
- famous art crafts in the most prominent museums in the world (Van Gogh self-portrait, Nachtwacht – Rembrandt, Girl with a Pearl Earring – Vermeer, Guernica – Picasso…),
- celebrities (Lady Di, The Beatles, Obama…),
- stereotypes from countries (bullfighter, windmills, marijuana, cows),
- commercial brands (Coca-Cola, Michelin…),
- football clubs (Real Madrid, Betis…)
Trust me: once you start you can’t stop searching for the next tile, trying to frame it with the ones around, wondering whether the artist placed it there intentionally for some reason or not (is it casual that “Don’t mess with Texas” is close to “Afghanistan” or that “Lyon” is above “Real Madrid”…?), checking whether you have seen those places, monuments, cities… as I said above: it’s addictive!
Moreover, YOU can take part in the making of the craft. As explained in some tiles, you may send him by post an old tile from your city and he may place it in the stairs… your contribution may be immortalized in Rio de Janeiro! The artist promises to send you a picture of the tile once it’s placed in the stairs.
See the pictures of the artist coming to work and with Luca and me… doesn’t he remind you to another genius, Salvador Dalí?
Next time you happen to be in Rio, don’t miss it.
Enjoy the pictures: