Young Black Brazilian Painter Making Waves On The Art Scene

| How Africa News


Johny Alexandre Gomes, a self-taught painter of twenty-two years, is creating waves on the Brazilian art world.

His works, known as “Jota,” are widely sought after by collectors both at home and abroad.

His designs are inspired by the Chapadao favela, or low working-class neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, where he grew up and where he and his mother currently live.

He is part of a new generation of black painters from Rio’s slums who are making waves in contemporary art markets and major institutions.

“I paint scenes of daily life, you know. Everything that happens here, I want to put it into my canvas,” he says.

Jota first works were made using cheap acrylic ink on wooden plates he collected from construction sites.

But all changed when Margareth Telles, the founder of the platform MT Projetos de Arte, saw photographs of his work on Instagram. It currently gives Jota materials, a studio in the city center, and handles the selling of his work.

His paintings sell out in hours at the yearly contemporary art fair, ArtRio. One of his works sold for around €2,700 at the last edition in September of last year. He used the money to buy a house 100 meters from his mother’s house.

She still can’t get over his success.

“I’m surprised because he started painting at home, simple things, his drawings, but we didn’t expect all that success,” said Marilena Alexandre da Silva.

While Jota now paints in a considerably more affluent area, with a view of Rio’s iconic Sugarloaf Mountain from his studio, his continues to draw inspiration from the favela.

“I think what is happening in the favela needs to be shown, so that people can report what’s going on there. It’s a constant necessity for me,” he said.

Police violence and daily hardships in the troubled neighbourhood is one of the themes of his work, but he also tries to show the other side of life in the favela.

The charm of the “stacked houses” next to tropical palm trees, or the atmosphere of the “funk dances” frequented by young people in Chapadao.

“I think ‘peripheral’ art or art that comes from these places is necessary for a collection, this repair is necessary. Repairing, bringing these artists, investing in them. So, I hope that more and more, institutionally doors will be opened for these artists,” said Margareth Telles.

Last year, Jota exhibited one of his works at the Sao Paulo Museum of Art alongside a painting by the modernist Candido Portinari, one of the most renowned painters in Brazilian history.

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