Dalton Paula

Visual artist & educator

Dalton Paula (born in Brasília, based in Goiânia, Brazil) is an artist and educator who creates intimate portraits of forgotten Brazilian figures using paint and photography.

“I work as a visual artist and art educator, equally, and this brings me a lot of pride,” Paula says. “I have learned a lot about art from my students. Together, we have learned that it is possible to dream of higher flights.”

Paula’s practice focuses on people who have never been recognised in Brazilian history. His art, therefore, explores the representations of Brazilian Black bodies of the African diaspora, from the colonial period through to the modern day. Paula’s work is often centred around ‘terreiros’ - places of worship for the Candomblé religion, which is primarily practiced by Brazil’s African diaspora. He has also deeply researched the history of ‘quilombos’, a community of black resistance to slavery.

In 2020, Paula had his first solo exhibition at Alexander and Bonin Gallery in New York. Since then, he has presented solo exhibitions at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) and the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo (2022). He was the recipient of the Soros Arts Fellowship from Open Society Foundations in 2023. In 2021, he founded the Sertão Negro Studio and School of Arts in Goiânia, a cultural centre which holds an annual residency programme. His work will be included in the 60th edition of the Art Biennale in Venice.

“Winning the award is significant in terms of recognition and validation of my work”, Paula says, having been awarded the CHANEL Next Prize. “It strengthens my journey. As an educator, I am always open to the possibility of developing another artist’s work. This award allows the continuity of many projects that depend on me”.

Courtesy of the artist. Photos by Jhony Aguiar, Joerg Lohse and Paulo Rezende.​
Dalton Paula: a kidnapper of souls, 2020. Photos by Joerg Lohse.​
Pinacoteca de São Paulo. Photos by Isabella Matheus.