Spring/Summer 2007 Issue: Volume 5, Issue 2
Paulo Melo has been showing his work at the “Hippie Fair” (Feira Hyppe) in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, for 31 years. The Hippie Fair, which is held every Sunday in the Praca General Osorio in Rio de Janeiro, began as a spontaneous gathering of artists who were, by lack of opportunity, excluded from Rio’s formal gallery world. Mr. Melo is engaged, as member of the governing body, in securing artists’ rights to show their work there without governmental interference.
In paintings like the one produced on the cover of this volume, Mr. Melo critiques the “culture of consumerism” that has overtaken the world. His work considers neoliberalism and the effect that neoliberal policies have on the poorest places in the world, such as the infamous favelas (shantytowns) of Rio de Janiero. Mr. Melo hopes that his paintings will make people think about the total alienation of the individual that neoliberalism fosters, particularly in a country like Brazil, where millions of poor people are exploited on a daily basis. The middle class, he believes, is already alienated from itself, wrapped up as it is in a fury of consumerism. Mr. Melo believes that this consumerism is also overtaking the poor with conservative media and elites with economic and political power selling the false notion that life can be improved by consumerism. This painting is intended to capture the irony of advertisements and international symbols of consumerism—things to which Brazil’s poor will not soon, if ever, have access to—looming large over daily life in the favelas.
Paulo Melo can be found in the Hippie Fair on Sundays or can be reached by telephone at (021) 25302675 (studio).