Jorge Selarón, the artist found on stairs in Rio de Janeiro, had spent more than 20 years painstakingly adding to the famed mosaic near which he was recently found dead.
The artist was found on the stairs on January 10, a strange and as of yet unexplained circumstance made more bizarre by the years of labor Selarón devoted to the brightly-tiled walkway.
Selarón decided to renovate the stairs on which he died on a whim beginning in 1990, and for the next two decades, he spent days and nights tiling the Escadaria Selaron as he chatted to locals and tourists alike.
According to ABC, the artist was found on the stairs on which he’d spent 20 years crafting, and police say there are some suspicious aspects to his death:
“Rio de Janeiro police discovered his body in front of his house Thursday, one of the humble colonials that flank the staircase as it ascends into the St. Teresa Convent above. Visitors dropped flowers and tried to light candles in the blustery weather on his doorstep.
“Investigators would not disclose the cause of death and were not discarding murder. Calls for additional comment from police were not returned.”
An acquaintance of Selaron’s commented on his death to press, saying that the artist found on the stairs had colored the culture of the Lapa neighborhood. Jocimar Batista de Jesus, a capoeira master, said:
“We can speak of Lapa before and after Selaron. He changed the face of Rio. His death is something brutish, that makes no sense.”
But Jesus also said that Selaron had his share of trouble, and added:
“He had no resources, no support from the city … The neighbors helped as they could. I brought him tiles from my trips, from Spain, Holland, as I traveled. As it grew, people began to contribute, to send him tiles, to bring them to Rio when they came to visit.”
Other reports indicate that the artist found on the stairs had received death threats before his demise, but police have not commented on whether they believe Selaron was murdered.