Gabriel Fonseca was born in 1938 in Rio de Janeiro, where he still lives. His father was a poet and a pianist and he was raised by paternal grandparents, both writers. His grandmother won international acclaim as a sculptress with works in major museums the world over, including New York’s MOMA and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
As a child he breathed in the intellectual atmosphere of his grandparent’s literary and academic set; to this was juxtaposed the riotous colors of the exuberant tropical city around him. Thus all these elements, the huge granite mountains, brilliant exotic flowers, dark green forests and erudite, sophisticated minds, combined in a melting pot to bring to life the sculptor Gabriel. But not before he made a career as a master builder. At that time, the engineer worked in France and in the United States.
An engineer graduate, Gabriel Fonseca founded and managed a very successful business. Under his direction, thousands of tons of steel and other metals assembled with different welding techniques, became bridges, buildings, factories, very large structures, huge pressure vessels. Gabriel never built the same building twice. He always strove to endow his precisely constructed creations with a personal touch which made each quite unique. He expected more than technical excellence from his bridges, structures and equipment. He wanted them to exhibit lightness and a delicate balance of form. And so they did. He was making sculptures.
In 1996 Gabriel Fonseca the successful businessman retired to dedicate his full time and energy to the pursuit of art. The engineer gave way to the artist who lay dormant for so many years. Having mastered steel as a material for practical, mundane uses Gabriel now turned that knowledge to bend matter to his will. His restless imagination and childhood memories give birth to objects deceptively light and simple. It takes a few minutes to realize that one is looking at steel, not spun sugar. The component parts of each sculpture do not appear to lean on each other. Instead they give the impression of lightly touching, almost casually brushing by. The pieces, some hanging from trees, floating in the water or free in the wind, interact with nature. One can say his work is part of nature. The self-taught artist decided to improve his skills by taking courses at Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage as well as bronze foundry at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Gabriel Fonseca set up his workshop amid forty acres of magnificent gardens in a century old coffee plantation, 70 miles from the city of Rio de Janeiro. There Gabriel Fonseca conceives and brings to life his works of art – not only in the form of steel sculptures, but also turning the original landscape into a unique Tropical Sculpture Garden where he maintains his studio. Gabriel’s sculptures can be seen in some Brazilian cities, clubs, and private collections inside Brazil and abroad.