CULTURE

The Selarón Stairs in Rio de Janeiro: A Mosaic of Culture and History

Located in the vibrant Lapa district of Rio de Janeiro, the Selarón Stairs are not just a link between the Santa Teresa and Lapa districts, but a veritable artistic masterpiece that attracts visitors from all over the world. This emblematic work, created by Chilean artist Jorge Selarón, has become a symbol of creativity and a passionate tribute to Brazilian culture.

 

Origin and transformation

Jorge Selarón (D.R.)

Jorge Selarón (D.R.)

After arriving in Brazil in 1983, Jorge Selarón began decorating the 215 steps of the staircase in 1990 as a personal act of thanks to the Brazilian people. What began with a few ceramic tiles on a dilapidated step turned into a lifelong project, culminating in an art installation made up of more than 2,000 tiles from 120 different countries. The artist dedicated a large part of his life to this staircase, considering it an “unfinished work”.

 

Selarón’s signature

Crédit : Boris G.

Crédit : Boris G.

Of these thousands of tiles, 300 are unique representations painted by Selarón himself, repeatedly showing a pregnant woman, a subject that the artist kept mysterious, citing only a deep personal significance. This recurring element in his work adds a layer of mystery and personal interpretation for each visitor. Other tiles are dedicated not only to his friends, but also to his favourite sports teams.

 

 

A Cultural Meeting Point

Crédit : Riotur

Crédit : Riotur

The Selarón staircase has become a meeting point for art lovers, tourists and locals alike. As well as being a tribute to Brazilian culture, it represents a place of global artistic expression, reflecting a diversity of cultures thanks to the tiles sent in by admirers and travellers from all over the world.

 

A popular film location

Over the years, the Staircase has featured in numerous music videos, films and other media productions, boosting its global reputation. Artists such as Snoop Dogg, Pharrell Williams, and U2 have chosen this colourful location for music video shoots, as has Louis Leterrier for the blockbuster The Incredible Hulk starring Edward Norton, attracting even more international attention.

 

Tribute

Despite the artist’s death in 2013, the staircase remains a vibrant tribute to his creative genius. This iconic work remains a place of inspiration and admiration for all those who climb its colourful steps.

 

 

The Selarón staircase transcends its original function to become a living monument to creativity and artistic expression. Each step and each tile tells a story, reflecting Jorge Selarón’s unwavering passion and commitment to his art. This iconic Rio staircase continues to captivate visitors, symbolising an artistic legacy to Brazilian culture.

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