Gustavo Rosa (1946-2013) was a truly original Brazilian artist. I hadn’t heard of him until I was asked by his brother, photographer Roberto Rosa, to translate a website into English that was being created in his honor.
I immediately fell in love with Gustavo’s work. It’s playful, amusing, colorful, satirical, and wonderfully executed, with wildly humorous depictions of typical Brazilian lifestyles in his own peculiar and engaging way. As you can see from some of the examples here, Gustavo had a penchant for chubby folks, which under his brush, have a definite charm of their own!
Gustavo Rosa was born in São Paulo, Brazil, and was drawing on anything—including school notebooks and walls—from the time he was a very little boy. He mostly drew the things from his own life—boys flying kites, the ice cream man, the circuses he went to with his parents, and so on.
In school he was restless and bored, and spent most of his time in class surreptitiously drawing. It was inevitable that he would become an artist, and he eventually took some drawing and painting courses. His first public exhibition was in 1964 at MAB—the Brazilian Art Museum. Finally he abandoned all schooling and forged ahead on his own.
Gustavo was at odds with some of his contemporaries, because he was willing to commercialize his art. Some artistic noses were turned up when he accepted an invitation from the American firm Russell-Newman to create unique designs to be printed on shirts, towels and other paraphernalia to be marketed throughout the United States. “Brazilians are not ready to accept the idea that an artist can put his art on a consumer object,” says Gustavo. “Outside Brazil it’s exactly the opposite: The artist who popularizes his art is greatly prized.”
Although Gustavo Rosa was diagnosed with cancer in 1999, he continued working and exhibiting until his death in 2013.
You can see more of Gustavo Rosa’s work on his new website, created by his brother, photographer Roberto Rosa: http://www.gustavorosa.com.br