Rio De Janeiro
The Chilean artist Jorge Selarón, based in Rio de Janeiro since 1983, was found dead today in the historic district of Lapa, on the steps of the mosaic and mirrors stairway that made him world famous.
It is still unclear what caused the death of the 65-year-old self-taught artist whose body was found today with multiple burns next to a can of paint thinner. Police in Rio de Janeiro is investigating the cause of death, which in principle could correspond to a suicide. However, police is also investigating the possibility of a homicide since the artist had allegedly received death threats from a former colleague with whom he worked for five years and whose brother is in prison for drug trafficking, reports O Globo (in Portuguese).
Selarón authored numerous paintings in which the figure of a pregnant woman, and occasionally a “pregnant man”, was a recurring theme. The Chilean artist was mostly recognized for his 20-year-long work on the stairs of the convent of Santa Tereza, also known as "The Selaron Stairway" (“Escadaria Selarón” in Portuguese), one of the main tourist attractions of the Lapa neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro.
This reporter and Chilean artist Jorge Selarón at the famous Staircase of Santa Tereza, district of Lapa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Selarón began working on the stairs in 1990. The work includes tiles from 60 countries, and covers the stairway of 215 steps and 125 meters long. Some of the tiles were replaced frequently to give the work a fluctuating character. In May 2005, the staircase of the convent of Santa Tereza was declared a historical monument of the city and Selarón received the title of "Honorary Citizen" of Rio de Janeiro.
In 2010, this reporter had the opportunity to meet, interview and acquire one of the paintings of the eccentric artist. The article published on Selarón’s history and his famous staircase is here.
“This crazy and unique dream will only end on the day of my death”- Selarón