Scenes from a Favela

By The Paris Review October 22, 2020

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Maxwell Alexandre’s sprawling, colorful paintings sing odes to Rocinha, the Rio de Janeiro favela where he was raised and currently lives. His work has a sort of Where’s Waldo? quality to it, presenting rich fields of figures huddling, sweating, texting, fighting, living alongside one another. In Close a door to open a window, a person reclining in a luxurious plane cabin sits directly across from two masked men clutching firearms. In Pisando no céu, a girl stands before a wall of Barbie dolls. Dalila retocando meus dreads depicts a barbershop run by police officers, the state holding a literal razor to citizens’ necks. Alexandre’s first show in the United Kingdom, “Pardo é Papel: close a door to open a window,” will open at David Zwirner’s London gallery on November 12 and remain on view through December 19, 2020. A selection of images from the exhibition appears below.

MAXWELL ALEXANDRE, PISANDO NO CÉU, 2020. © MAXWELL ALEXANDRE. PHOTO: GABI CARERRA. COURTESY THE ARTIST, A GENTIL CARIOCA, AND DAVID ZWIRNER.

MAXWELL ALEXANDRE, IF YOU COULD DIE AND COME BACK TO LIFE, UP FOR AIR FROM THE SWIMMING POOL (DETAIL), 2020. © MAXWELL ALEXANDRE. PHOTO: GABI CARERRA. COURTESY THE ARTIST, A GENTIL CARIOCA, AND DAVID ZWIRNER.

MAXWELL ALEXANDRE, DALILA RETOCANDO MEUS DREADS, 2020. © MAXWELL ALEXANDRE. PHOTO: GABI CARERRA. COURTESY THE ARTIST, A GENTIL CARIOCA, AND DAVID ZWIRNER.

MAXWELL ALEXANDRE, CLOSE A DOOR TO OPEN A WINDOW (SETAIL), 2020. © MAXWELL ALEXANDRE. PHOTO: GABI CARERRA. COURTESY THE ARTIST, A GENTIL CARIOCA, AND DAVID ZWIRNER.

MAXWELL ALEXANDRE, CLOSE A DOOR TO OPEN A WINDOW (DETAIL), 2020. © MAXWELL ALEXANDRE. PHOTO: GABI CARERRA. COURTESY THE ARTIST, A GENTIL CARIOCA, AND DAVID ZWIRNER.

MAXWELL ALEXANDRE, CLOSE A DOOR TO OPEN A WINDOW (DETAIL), 2020. © MAXWELL ALEXANDRE. PHOTO: GABI CARERRA. COURTESY THE ARTIST, A GENTIL CARIOCA, AND DAVID ZWIRNER.

MAXWELL ALEXANDRE, CLOSE A DOOR TO OPEN A WINDOW, 2020. © MAXWELL ALEXANDRE. PHOTO: GABI CARERRA. COURTESY THE ARTIST, A GENTIL CARIOCA, AND DAVID ZWIRNER.

Pardo é Papel: close a door to open a window” will be on view at David Zwirner’s London gallery from November 12 through December 19, 2020.

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