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Rio de Janeiro is more than just the beach, samba, and caipirinhas – it has an incredibly diverse and innovative artistic side too. Culture Trip explores some of the city’s most fascinating artists that all art lovers should check out.
Linked to the modernism movement, Beatriz Milhazes studied at the former mansion-turned-art school Parque Lage, before defining her own unique style that has made her one of Rio’s best known artists. She decorates blank canvases using painted plastic sheets that are peeled off to leave a print. Building up layers of shapes and colors into a vibrant collage, her work contrasts images of Brazilian culture with painting from Western modernism.
Adriana Varejão lives and works in Rio de Janeiro, yet her art has been exhibited throughout the world including in Sydney, London, and Paris. Closer to home, she has a permanent exhibition in Inhotim, a large outdoor art gallery in Minas Gerais. Varejão’s artistic talents span across painting, installations, drawings, photography, and sculptures. Her work draws from the foreign influence that has shaped Brazilian culture.
Maria Nepomuceno was a student at Parque Lage art school from the age of 14, where she experimented with various mediums and styles of art. Her artistic preference eventually settled with sculpting which she has been perfecting the last few years. Nepomuceno’s work explores the relationship between body and nature, and she has exhibited throughout Brazil, America, and Europe.
Known for his innovative approach to art, Fernando de la Rocque uses his works to push boundaries and stimulate debates about what are often taboo subjects. One of his most controversial yet fascinating exhibitions was Blow Job, a series of paintings created by inhaling cannabis smoke and using the fumes to make images. Other exhibitions include Colonias, a collection of geometric paintings of sexual orgies, and Carnaval, which is a collection of paintings depicting naked men and women.
Having studied fine arts in New York, Daniel Lannes now works and lives in Niteroi, a city just across the bay from Rio de Janeiro. His paintings are inspired by the realism movement with imagery drawn from pop culture. Lannes’ work ranges from huge oil paintings to naked self-portraits with fruit covering his modesty. His images are free, liberal, and enticing.
Alander Especie’s artistic signature lies in textiles and hand-crafted items. He uses an oriental knot technique known as macramé which he uses to transform a variety of objects into colorful, handmade items. In addition to his exhibitions, he has also worked alongside Farm, a popular fashion brand from Rio, helping to design and create fashion pieces.
Famous on the street art scene, Joana Cesar’s work is plastered on walls across Rio de Janeiro. Her art is a collection of indecipherable messages, a secret code that only the artist herself is able to understand and translate. Her work is often exhibited at local galleries and independent shows, as well as Rio’s largest annual art event, ArtRio.