Born in 1966 in Lisbon. Lives and works in Lisbon near Guincho.
Rui Chafes graduated in sculpture from Escola Superior de Belas-Artes (1984-89). His first solo exhibitions at the Gallery Leo, in 1986 and 1987, and Espaço Poligrupo Renascença, in 1988, define an initial period marked by the creation of installations in which the artist used various materials, such as tree logs, reeds, strips of hardboard, wood planks and plastic, which he would later abandon, in favor of the exclusive use of black painted iron, calling therefore into his work the physical experience of its transformation, and industrial alchemy.
Between 1990 and 1992, he studies with Gerhard Merz, at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, where he read an extensive and important theoretical frame of literary and artistic reference, from the German Romanticism, Gothic and Late Middle Ages, which structure, to a great extent, the activity and the interests of this artist: light, color, weight, lightness and balance of forms, in their relationship with nature, with the surrounding space and Man. During his German stay, he translates the Fragments of Novalis, which are published together with his own drawings. Some of the exhibitions in different institutions are accompanied by the publication of books, made for their own sake. These include writings by the artist himself and by other authors, delving into the trappings of the artistic practice, which is, according to the artist, deeply redemptive and a catalyst for thought.
Enigmatic, the works of Rui Chafes are often placed in romantic gardens (Sintra), or palaces and churches; they operate in a territory suspended in time; in a landscape that appeals to a different order and condition of the created object, between chaos and the rigor of revelation, between the inner and outer regions of existence: irrational, individual and transcendental.
In 1995, Rui Chafes represented Portugal at the Venice Biennale (together with José Pedro Croft and Pedro Cabrita Reis) and in 2004 he attended the Bienal de S. Paulo with a project in collaboration with Vera Mantero: ‘Comer o Coração’.
His career includes important exhibitions in national and international institutions.In recent years, he had several solo exhibitions, with a special note to: ‘Five Rings’ (with Orla Barry), Museu Colecção Berardo, Lisbon (2011); ‘Inferno (a minha fraqueza é muito forte)’, Galeria João Esteves de Oliveira, Lisbon (2011), ‘Campo de sombras ‘, Fundación Luis Seoane, a Coruña, Spain (2011); ‘Entrate per la porta stretta’ Convicinio di Sant'Antonio and Parco della Gravina, Matera, Italy (2011); ‘Khora’ (with Alberto Carneiro), Fundação Carmona e Costa, Lisbon (2010).
His collective exhibitions include: ‘O Castelo em 3 Atos: Assalto, Destruição, Reconstrução’, Paço dos Duques de Bragança, Guimaraes (2012); ‘Dreidimensional! (Bildhauerei der Sammlung Würth)’, Kurpark, Bad Mergentheim, Germany (2012); ‘Observadores-Revelações, Trânsitos e Distâncias’, Museu Colecção Berardo, Lisbon (2011); ‘Muestra la herida’, Fundacion Luis Seoane, A Coruña, Spain (2010); and ‘Connexions’, Esbjerg Kunstmuseum, Esbjerg, Denmark (2010).
His works are included in the most relevant public and private collections in countries like Spain, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Austria, France and Portugal, and he is also represented in the Art Collection of the Fundação EDP, in Lisbon.