Mário Luiz Silva

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Fine art on paper

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Born in charming Conservatória, Mário Luiz Silva is a self-taught artist who created the unique "fine art on paper" technique, which consists on making images of Baroque style saints on paper craft and wire, which are then stuffed with newspaper and painted over. Heads are made on plaster. "Baroque paper art is nothing short of art made from noble materials such as silver", says the saint maker who opened in 1997 the house/studio, called Casa D'arte, where he sells his art.

Photo: Isabela Kassow/Diadorim Ideias.

Silva never attended an art school, but says he is graduated from the "celestial university", since his inspiration comes from deep faith. "I have always been very religious and I see my work as a mission", he says. Silva is an Our Lady of Conception devotee, who happens to be the best selling saint at Casa D'arte. Silva's home, on the second floor of the building, is much like a church, decorated with images of saints and altars found by the artist in garbage containers and second-hand shops.

Silva produces an average of 30 saints each week. His ability is impressive, but he needs concentration to do his work. "I can only work while listening to Classical or Baroque music. Samba is not an option", says the Valença native artist who is very much influenced by the work of Minas Gerais native sculptor Aleijadinho. Before making a living sculpting saints, he created local folkloric characters, mostly from the Café Valley region, such as the seresta musician (seresta is the name given, in the 20th century, to the popular tradition of singing serenades and romantic songs at night, through the streets of a city or town) and the caipira (the local version of the hillbilly).

Photo: Isabela Kassow/Diadorim Ideias.

"I currently produce saints only; and there is already a three-year waiting list for those", says the popular saint maker. Public figures such as Chico César, Ana Maria Braga and Regina Duarte own saints by the artist, who has had his work exhibited in countries such as England, France and Italy. Throughout the Rio de Janeiro State, his work can be found in churches such as the Our Lady of the Sorrows church in Paraty, and Saint Francis Xavier church, in Rio de Janeiro city. He has a warning, though: "You must be attentive to recognize my work. People normally don't notice they are made of paper". The price of a sculpture by Silva can reach from 50 to 40 thousand Reais, according to its size and complexity.      

General Information

Address: Pedro Gomes Street, 26 (opposite the steam train) - Conservatória
Phone: (+55 24) 99969-7226 / (+55 21) 99715-6257
Opening hours:

Sat, from 10am to 7pm; Sun, from 10am to 7pm. 

Secretaria de Cultura do Estado do Rio de Janeiro Petrobras

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