He had worked as a bus driver, hairdresser, mechanic, until one day he got a job in a furniture workshop. Back then he used to varnish furniture as that was the fashion of the time. Then he started to do woodcarvings and to sculpt, and never looked back. This was the journey of J. Alcântara, the artist with the best sense of humour in the Amazon. He says that since he was a child he has enjoyed drawing and even did an architectonic drawing course by mail. “It was good, and helped me with scale.”
J.Alcântara was one of the pioneers in sculpting animals. “I started making small sculptures but today most of my work is life-size. The first one was the jaguar, and to this day it is the one that guarantees my money.”
Once, he saw a jaguar sculpture made by an artist from Rondônia. “I knew mine was more beautiful, but his had whiskers! I tried it on my leopard but the nylon thread curled up. So I decided to use real whiskers, from the zoo. It was a huge success. Now I always go to the zoo to observe the animals. An artist has to observe and always try to learn.”
J. Alcântara says he saw a leopard being born in the zoo, but when the mother sensed his presence she picked the cub up and left. The image had an impact on him and he still sculpts it today. How many leopards has he sculpted? He doesn’t know. And says: “I make lots of jaguars because there are customers for them, and they pay well. I also make other animals. But if I could, I would only make sculptures of naked women, beautiful native ladies. Or do you think I only like animals?”
J. Alcântara is born in Careiro (AM) in 1946.