AAJ Press


With the exhibition Light on Brasil, Françoise Schein, Director of Association Inscrire, presents a history of developing artistic and educational artworks on four continents with the goal of “inscribing human rights in the cities of the world” and celebrating a career spanning twenty years of creating public artworks in Brasil.

In Rio, huge ceramic panels designed by Françoise Schein are visible on the façade of the Siqueira Campos subway station in Copacabana, the Luz subway station in São Paulo, and the Concorde subway station in Paris. They all have the theme of Human Rights, to which Françoise Schein has dedicated her life. She founded the association INSCRIRE Brasil with a team including the architect Rita Anderaos and the pedagogue Moema Quintanilha.

This is the first time that Françoise has presented a retrospective of her artworks in Rio.  It is an exhibition created by the four hands of Françoise and her daughter Lohana who is curator of the exhibition, and was born in Rio de Janeiro. Their story is linked to Françoise’s artistic-educational action in Brazil and illustrates one of the first panels of the exhibition, which tells the moving story of Lohana’s adoption. In order to keep the girl connected with her family, Françoise has returned to Rio every year. 

Human rights are the common thread running through the whole experience of the exhibition “Light on Brazil”. It begins with a praise for Utopia, then goes through a series of demonstrations that show that together we can create and amplify our voice through art, and the end of the show asks a final question: “What’s next?”.

The creative process is always undertaken with the participation of pupils, youth and children from less privileged communities. By becoming active in the creation of artworks, the youngsters learn about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, through methodical pedagogical work, they are stimulated to reflect on the different subjects and connect them to their own lives.

“There is no right or wrong answer to these complex challenges and Françoise knows that there is no single answer either. So the invitation to reflect is an invitation for each of us to understand what we can do to build a fairer society,” comments Lohana Schein.  The exhibition “Light on Brazil”, presents Françoise’s career through original drawings, texts, images of several public artworks created in Brazil and abroad, videos, photos, sketches and pieces from the artist’s personal collection. 

The key element of the exhibition is the work created at the Luz subway station in São Paulo, which is the first participatory and educational artistic intervention on Human Rights in a subway station in the country, which took ten years to complete and which inspired the title of the exhibition. The sixteen panels of Luz also tell the story of São Paulo, through figurative drawings created by the artist and through Human Rights panels painted by 3,000 students from schools on the underprivileged outskirts of the city. To create the historical panels, the artist designed an alphabet of hundreds of small silkscreened images that are reproduced throughout the works. 

The path taken by Françoise and the association INSCRIRE is revealed in a series of works including Vidigal, her first intervention in Brazil, the Siqueira Campos subway station in Rio de Janeiro represents a 200 m2 map of the Copacabana region including Human Rights texts and images of the history of slavery.

The  large 110m2 panel at the Galeria dos Estados subway station in Brasília, which concerns the global ecology, was commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme, and was created with the participation of a thousand young people from the Federal District.

In addition the exhibition shows works from different cities around the world, and more than 20 participatory public installations located in disadvantaged communities on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, which are part of the project “Inscribing Human Rights in 1001 Schools”.

Françoise Schein believes “The work we are slowly but surely doing in the Brazilian schools and everywhere else, is the alphabet for life’s skills and should be the first thing taught to the billions of young students around the world. So, isn’t teaching it in a playful way and creating works of art for the pleasure of beauty, for all and by all, the best way to do it?”.

André Couto, the President of the association INSCRIRE in Brazil, emphasizes that “the exhibition “Light on Brazil” presents itself as a double direction’s light house. One side illuminates the path traveled by the artist Françoise Schein, from the works of the world to those of Brazil, and the other side illuminates the future, a future in which the inscription of Human Rights and full democracy depends on the action of each one of us”.

About the artist

Françoise Schein was born in Belgium in 1953. She studied urban design at Columbia University in New York and architecture in Brussels. She also studied art with Robert Morris at the New York University. She has internationally developed large urban works in Europe, the United States, South America and the Middle East. For the past 30 years, Françoise has devoted much of her work to the dissemination of Human Rights in schools and underprivileged neighbourhoods. In 1997, she founded the Association INSCRIRE, an NGO dedicated to the dissemination of the concepts of citizenship and Human Rights through innovative participatory and artistic works.

Politically committed and sensitive to the historical evolution of Human Rights, Françoise Schein has created, through her various projects, an ethical and artistic link between cities and countries. All her works have become local landmarks and contemporary heritage monuments.

Françoise believes in the structure that links delicacy, goodness and beauty. She has created a simple and human methodology for the pedagogical production of her artworks, allowing the participation of people from the most diverse social classes. Her artistic methodology often uses ceramics because of its easy use and its great longevity.

It is under the cities, in their subway stations, in parks and on cities’ walls that Françoise inscribes the text of the 1948 Human Rights, which is often intertwined with images, philosophical and literary texts, cartographies of the local culture and history and is produced with the active inhabitants’ participation.

With the association INSCRIRE or alone, Françoise Schein has created a large number of monumental artworks including the Concorde subway station on the French Revolution, in Paris (1989-90); the Saint Gilles subway station in Brussels (1992) on Human Rights and European borders; the Parque subway station in Lisbon (1994) on Human Rights and the “Portuguese Discoveries around the world”; the Universitetet subway station in Stockholm (1998) on Human Rights and global environmental issues; the Westhafen subway station in Berlin (2000) on Human Rights and migration issues. She also created “The Human Rights Garden” in the Rhododendron’s Park in Bremen (2001), the façade of the Beth Hagefen Jewish-Arab Cultural Centre in Haifa, Israel (1993) and the façade of the Ramallah Municipal Theatre in Palestine “A City as a Tree for Human Rights ” (2009).

Since 2000, Françoise Schein has initiated this great humanist project in Rio de Janeiro, she then traveled to various countries around the world – Belgium, France, Israel, Palestine, Germany, England, Portugal, Spain, Uruguay, Haiti – where she created a series of projects in constant evolution entitled “INSCRIBING Human Rights in Schools and on the Walls of Cities”.

In Coventry, England (2005), Françoise built a large-scale urban art project in stainless steel and light, called “The Time Zone Clock”, a giant clock using the time zone system as design. Near Paris, in Les Mureaux, she created “Murmures”, a large ceramic artwork made with the participation of the inhabitants. In 2016, in Brussels, with the participation of many inhabitants, she designed “Le Grand Banket”, a large public banquet-table accessible to all.

In her individual art projects, Françoise works with multimedia, sculpture, photography, drawing, video and she creates artists’ books. She has exhibited her work and her collaboration with INSCRIRE in different museums in Europe, Brazil and the United States.


Exhibition of Françoise Schein with the Association Inscrire marks the reopening of the Paço Imperial 
Curator: Lohana Schein
Address: Praça XV de Novembro, 48 – Centro – Rio de Janeiro
February 26 – April 25, 2021 Tuesday – Friday, 12 – 6 pm | Weekends and holidays, 12 – 5 pm – Free admission.  Tel. 2215-2622

Sponsors:  The exhibition “Light on Brazil” is sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism, the Special Secretary of Culture and the Instituto Caixa Seguradora, with the support of the General Consulate of France in Rio de Janeiro, Artmyn, Gigascope and Studio Zero. The production is designed by Bertrand Dussauge of KDB PARTNERS.

More information :
www.francoiseschein.com / www.inscrire.com

Association Inscrire / Atelier Azulejaria: Estação Luz do Metrô, São Paulo, Brazil


Association Inscrire, Ilha do Governador, Rio de Janeiro


Françoise Schein: Artiste des droits humains. CIVA Brussels. 21.02.2014 – 4.05.2014


Le Grand BanKet de Françoise Schein. Centrale art centre, Brussels 26 June 2016


About jeh

Jeremy Hunt is Director of the AAJ Press (Art & Architecture Journal / Press) – a writer and consultant on art and public space


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