Stephen Musgrove: Rabiscos do Rio

14th May – 12th June 2009


Stephen is originally from a village called Bookham in Surrey, on the edge of south London, in the Mole Valley.

Graduating in Fine Arts from the Wimbledon School of Art in 2001, Stephen spent a year working on art projects such as painting murals with youth groups, running art classes for adults with learning disabilities and teaching evening life drawing classes for a small number of professionals in a studio in north Clapham.

In the spring of 2003, wanting to spend more time making art, Stephen moved to Limassol, Cyprus, where he found new live/work studios for rent. The cheap studios gave him an opportunity to focus solely on his art while enjoying a Mediterranean lifestyle.

What he found when he arrived was a place full of wonderfully crumbling grandeur lost behind the package-holiday, hotel-laden sea front. In Limassol, Stephen says: “I developed a love affair for the hidden parts of cities, the seemingly forgotten parts, full of ghosts and decaying gems”. He spent his time exploring the city taking photographs and developing ideas for paintings in sketch books.

On returning to London, Stephen painted Hotel Cyprus 1&2. This work, which bends perspective, full of colour, light, pattern and character, crystallised a new way of working for the artist and the experience was repeated many times. Visiting Rome, Paris, Barcelona, Sicily, the south of Italy and the north of Spain, he returned each time to London to develop new work.

However, it was in 2006 when the artist visited Brazil that he found the inspiration which lead him to make his most iconoclastic works to date. Highlights of this trip included visiting the island of Santa Catarina, in the south of Brazil, Paraty, a historical gold exporting town in the state of Rio de Janeiro and Ouro Preto in the state of Minas Gerais, where the gold came from. It was, however, living in Santa Teresa in Rio where Stephen found his gold. Santa Teresa is an artistic neighbourhood with panoramic views of downtown Centro, set on a steep hill lined with dilapidated mansions, on which the route of the famous Bonde tram service runs and at the bottom of which is the evening party destination of Lapa.

The works displayed here show his impressions of the area; each has a specific street in mind and intends, not only to show how it looks, but how the place feels, its day to day street life and the characters who live there. They are based on drawings made in the evening after days spent exploring and taking photographs, meeting people and discovering new aspects of a very colourful neighbourhood.

Working in his studio in west London, Stephen made these paintings in 2008, long after the trip, but with a memory of Brazil, its abundant nature, the vitality of the people he meet and the area of Santa Teresa still fresh in his mind.

Braziliality is very pleased to be able to give an opportunity to appreciate this work, as Stephen rarely exhibits and mostly sells work direct to collectors and friends, through bi-annual exhibitions at his studio. Also on show will be a video that shows the progression of how the paintings are made and other works by the artists.

Stephen will be available for a casual chat on the private view night, but he can also be contacted through his website where you can see more work and join his mailing list.

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