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On the cover: ‘Pinta e Niña’ by Fernando Chamarelli

What is the story behind ‘Pinta e Niña’?

Pinta and Niña were two of Christopher Columbus’s three caravels, the boats he used in his first voyage to America in 1492. This painting shows the moment of revelation, when a spirit alerts the natives about the arrival of the Spanish in America and the religion and death that come with them. Like all my work it began on paper before moving to canvas. I put some of the colours on paper too, but most of the colours I decide during painting.

You were commissioned to redesign the Brazilian football team’s crest – did you enjoy the Confederations Cup?’

The Brazilian people love football; they are still very fond of the Brazilian team, but it is different from a few years ago. The national team has lost the sympathy of many people. I care more about my club, Corinthians, than the Brazilian team. I liked seeing Brazil beat the great Spanish team in June, but I know that for many people the victory felt hollow, especially as the Confederations Cup coincided with the protests.

Chamarelli’s redesign of the Brazilian football team’s crest

Chamarelli at work

Did you feel that the protests overshadowed the tournament?

In Brazil, the protests were in no danger of overshadowing the cup, because the media simply did not cover the protests or the police repression. Brazilian television showed a very pretty Confederations Cup and a few troublemakers outside the stadiums, but we know that the reality was different. Many Brazilians are against hosting the World Cup here next year and the atmosphere is tense. I believe the World Cup will be a beautiful event, but there are many people angry about the cost. The stadiums are amazing but other important investments are very low. The levels of education and public health in Brazil are very worrying.

People have described the recent protests in Brazil as the Brazilian Spring: do you see the connection with the Arab Spring?

The only similarity is that the protests were organised through social media. In the Arab countries the struggle is against dictatorial regimes and to overthrow a president takes more violent protests and risks civil war. What is happening to the people of Syria is very sad and you cannot compare that to the protests in Brazil. But the protests here are still important. They began in São Paulo when the bus fares increased, and then the whole of Brazil seemed to be protesting.  The phrase everyone used was “The giant awoke!”

‘As Gemas’

‘Era de Aquarius’

What are your views on the current situation in Brazil?

Some people are still organising protests, but the vast majority have ended and people are getting on with their lives. Brazil is growing, it has improved a lot in the last ten years with many people getting out of poverty and moving into the middle class, but taxes in Brazil are extremely high and people are beginning to demand that the government improves to reflect this. In relation to art, I have no complaints. More and more people are appreciating art here and there are great artists. I can sell my paintings for the same price I sell them in Europe and the US. Sometimes it’s actually easier to sell them for a higher price in Brazil than abroad. That was not the case even a few years ago.

Does politics influence your work?

When I first started my work was very political, but now it is much more spiritual. My greatest interest is in ancient civilisations and the bond that there is between them and the modern day. My art mixes elements of these ancient cultures. I hope that each painting is like a myth because each one tells a story.

Chamarelli at work

Fernando Chamarelli’s solo show ‘Among Photons’ will be at Chicago’s Vertical Gallery from 12th October- 9th November. You can see more of his work at

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