João Turin Sculpture Park (Jardim de Esculturas João Turin), Curitiba

Marumbi, a massive bronze sculpture of a fierce battle between a pair of jaguars

photography by: Omri Westmark

Reading time: minutes

Regarded as the State of Paraná’s most illustrious artist, João Turin was a Brazilian sculptor who gained a nationwide recognition for creating a series of ultra-realistic sculptures, most of which accurately depict Amazonian animals. As a tribute to his legacy, the city of Curitiba, where Turin lived for a significant part of his life, inaugurated in 2021 a sculpture garden honoring his life work. The park and the nearby exhibition hall are home to more than 100 of Turin’s works and replicas, making it the largest sculpture garden in Brazil.

Born in 1878 in the village of Porto de Cima, João Turin moved as a toddler to Curitiba, the state of Paraná’s capital, where he spent most of his childhood. While Turin’s fascination with sculpture already began during his early years, it wasn’t until 1905, when he was enrolled to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels, that his decades-long career truly commenced. Following his return to Brazil in 1922, Turin resettled in Curitiba where he opened a studio, creating dozens of bronze statues, reliefs and even paintings.


Turin’s love of his state, and particularly its nature, was well articulated through his works, most of which were visceral depictions of wild animals and indigenous people. In fact, Turin was a fervent admirer of Paranism, a local art movement that sought to establish a strong cultural identity for the state of Paraná, which up until then lacked a distinct art style of its own.


The hyper-realist style of Turin rapidly earned him a great deal of fame all over the world, so much so, that upon his death in 1949, many of his works embellished cities all across Paraná, Brazil and even other countries, including the Vatican City’s private collection of art.


In 2021, the city of Curitiba, where João Turin has lived for most of his life, paid a tribute to one of its greatest artists when it inaugurated a museum as well as a sculpture garden, dedicated to his legacy. Located at the northern tip of Parque São Lourenço, the Memorial Paranista and the surrounding garden showcase over one hundred works of art.


As a passionate enthusiast of animal anatomy, Turin was renowned for painstakingly creating extremely detailed sculptures of Brazil’s endemic species. Nevertheless, as the sculpted animals were too small in size, they were unsuitable to be showcased at the garden. Instead, the original sculptures were scanned into a 3d model, whereby an enlarged wax molding was made.


Standing out among the 15 installed statues throughout the garden are Marumbi, a 700-kilogram bronze sculpture of a violent fight between two jaguars, and Índio Guairacá II, the sculpted figure of an indigenous tribal leader which also happens to be the complex’s most expensive work of art. The quaint replicas are also accompanied by an artificial water cascade, a defunct brick chimney as well as a rectangular pond, teeming with koi fish.