After spending decades wandering the globe creating art, sculptor and painter Jorge Selaron knew that he wanted to settle in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro as soon as he arrived there. Jorge Selaron—who is originally from Chile—instantly fell in love with Rio’s vibrant music, delectable food, and robust art scene.
Jorge Selaron sold countless paintings on the streets of Rio, but it is a gleaming staircase that he carefully renovated over the course of 2 decades with over 2,000 mosaic tiles from around the world for which he is best known. When Jorge Selaron set out to spruce up the crumbling staircase outside of his home, he initially used blue, yellow, and green tiles to pay tribute to his adopted home of Brazil.
As Jorge Selaron’s staircase renovation project expanded, it became known as Escadaria Selaron, or the Selaron Staircase. Starting in 1990, Jorge Selaron could often be spotted dressed in bright red clothing adding colorful tiles to his creation. Travelers from around the world started gifting Jorge Selaron tiles with the name of their home country, favorite football team, or a likeness of their favorite painting. Onlookers can spot tiles from Jamaica, Jordan, and Kazakhstan. The Selaron Staircase also features numerous tiles with original artwork from Jorge Selaron’s own hand, including several images of a mysterious pregnant woman of unknown origin who Selaron often rendered.
Tragedy struck in 2013 when Jorge Selaron was found dead on the very steps that he lovingly refurbished. The cause of Jorge Selaron’s death is still unknown. The Selaron Staircase is one of Rio de Janeiro’s most popular destinations. Models, musicians, and people from all walks of life pose for pictures on the Selaron Staircase. Jorge Selaron’s vibrant contribution to the city that he loved so much will surely thrive for centuries.