Brazilian sculptor Arlindo Armacollo’s quirky waxworks of famous persons are receiving global attention

Published : January 14, 2021 11:25 IST

Brazilian sculptor Arlindo Armacollo. Photo: YouTube / UniTV

The "Friends of God" exhibition held in 2015 at a local church in Rolandia, Brazil. Photo: YouTube / UniTV

Armacollo's wax sculpture of Mahatma Gandhi. Photo: Instagram / @museu_izidoroarmacollo

Armacollo's wax sculpture of Albert Einstein. Photo: YouTube / UniTV

Armacollo's rendition of Hollywood screen legend Marilyn Monroe. Photo: YouTube / UniTV

Armacollo's sculpture of the late Ayrton Senna, one of Brazil's most famous sons. Photo: Instagram / @museu_izidoroarmacollo

The Museu de Artes ("Museum of Arts") Izidoro Armacollo in Rolandia, Brazil. Arlindo's waxworks are currently on display at this museum, which is incidentally named after his father Izidoro. Photo: Instagram / @museu_izidoroarmacollo

Images of a 2015 exhibition of quirky wax statues in southern Brazil resurfaced on social media recently, throwing their sculptor, Arlindo Armacollo, into the limelight. Since then, the 77-year-old artist’s works have become the subject of much wonder, and ridicule. The waxworks drew unfavourable comparisons with the botched restorations of stone carvings in Spain that made news in June 2020, with one Twitter user even terming it a “Brazilian horror story”.

In April 2015, the Brazilian news outlet Folha de Londrina in a video report focussed on Armacollo’s first exhibition at a local church in Rolandia, a small town in the southern state of Parana, which he called “Friends of God”. In the video, which Internet users unearthed after the exhibition images went viral, the local TV news reporter is seen raving about the statues, waxing lyrical about the richness of detail and how the artist wanted to “capture the character as well as the soul of each person”. Armacollo explains in the video that he started out by referencing pictures and eventually refined his work through a trial-and-error approach. He also spoke of importing the eyes of the statues from England, since he could not procure them in his country.

The exhibition had statues of luminaries such as Mother Teresa, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Lady Diana, Charlie Chaplin, Elvis Presley and Pope Francis. There’s one even of the late Ayrton Senna, three-time Formula One champion and one of Brazil’s most famous sons, dressed in racing gear.

Armacollo has now been flooded with interview requests from journalists in Brazil and abroad. His works are currently on display at the Museu de Artes Izidoro Armacollo (named after his father) in Rolandia. He told The Guardian that he could not care less about the flak he was receiving since he was not doing it for money. “I do the things I do because I enjoy them. I did this for our town. If people like it, come and visit. If they don’t, don’t. Why worry?” he added.

However, he expressed the hope that all this attention he was getting would put Rolandia on the radar of tourists from around the world.