Jorge Selarón

Brazil I love you

Tile mosaic by Jorge Selarôn

Rio de Janeiro, Estado de Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Some sad news: the Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón has been found dead. His body was discovered on the Escadaria Selarón, a flight of steps in the Lapa neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro that he had transformed into his own whimsical art project, decorating the steps with thousands of handmade tiles.

Selarón made the transformation of the stair into his life work, adorning them with brightly colored tiles bearing abstract designs or idiosyncratic figures. One of his recurring themes was an image of a hugely-pregnant woman, which apparently represented his admiration for the literal and metaphorical fertility of Brazil. Following his own unique logic, he represented himself using the same figure, but substituting his own mustachioed face for the woman's.

The stairs are delightful - a splash of color and humor in a not too prosperous neighborhood - and represent an amazing labor of love by a very unusual man. It's a sad end to an extraordinary life.