By Felicity Clarke, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Last Thursday December 16th saw the launch of a new exhibition by emerging Carioca artist Maurício Figo at designer Gilson Martins‘ Ipanema store. Filling the gallery space with his bright collage canvases bursting with Rio motifs, Figo’s work fits perfectly in the gallery space complementing the flagship store of one of Rio’s most famous, and distinctly Carioca designers.

Gilson Martins with artist Maurício Figo by the painting Pedaços do Rio, photo by Ivy Peçanha.

The exhibition, which opened on Thursday evening to an international public that included the Consul-General of Panamá, is the artist’s first show. An administrator at the Rio de Janeiro Court of Justice by day, Figo recently completed a visual art course at the Parque Lage School of Visual Arts.

A personal friend of Gilson’s, Figo surprised him at a party when he revealed his vibrant, playful canvas creations to guests. “I immediately fell in love with them”, gushes Gilson. “I invited him on the spot to show the work here in the gallery”.

In harmony with Gilson’s Rio-inspired style items, Figo’s work uses Rio de Janeiro references, graphic shapes, vibrant color and a collage of materials to create paintings which communicate the artist’s personal connection and thoughts about his home city.

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Works such as Chuva de Prata blend a multitude of Rio patterns and monuments with the Copacabana curved sidewalks merging with the Lapa arches centered around a bloody Christ rained down with bullets speak directly about the problems the city faces while elsewhere Pedaços de Rio highlights details of Carioca life in a pop-inspired geometric grid.

With the Rio references and simplicity of form, designer Gilson Martins has a definite affinity with the paintings. “The work is very authentic,” he enthuses. “I like that it’s obvious and clear, almost childlike. It’s pure”.

Using the exhibition space at the rear of the store to launch up and coming artists such as Figo is important to Martins. “I do this because it was difficult for me to find a place to show my work when I was starting out” say the award-winning designer.

“Also the gallery provides a conceptual reference for my products. The art has to combine with my work so we look for artists who speak highly about Rio or Brazil in a clear, obvious form”, Martins adds.

For Figo, the exhibition is a important milestone. “It’s wonderful”, he smiles. “To premiere here in Ipanema is a dream come true. I never thought it would happen this quick”.

Maurício Figo's painting Chuva de Prata
Maurício Figo's painting Chuva de Prata, or Rain of Silver, photo by Ivy Peçanha.

Speaking about the main theme in both his and Martins’ work, Rio, Figo is passionate saying “It’s a city of many contrasts. There’s natural beauty, poverty and wealth, and everything close together. There’s so much to inspire you”.

‘miXtura caRIOca’ runs until January 15th, after which Martins, recently judged the U.S. Embassy’s Environmental Sustainability design prize for students at the Oi Kabum School of Art and Technology, has hinted he will show an exhibition of his own new art works.

Gilson Martins’ first store opened in Ipanema in 1996, followed by outlets in Barra Shopping, Shopping Rio Sul, and now Copacabana.

Gilson Martins
Show is until January 15th, 2011
Rua Visconde de Pirajá, 462, Ipanema
Open Monday to Saturday, 9AM – 8PM


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