Arts & Entertainment

Illustrator captures scenes of Montevideo in New Yorker-style collection

By Alejandro Prieto

Montevideo, Apr 3 (EFE).- Bike rides along the Uruguayan capital’s La Rambla coastal promenade and rainy afternoons in its Ciudad Vieja (Old Town) neighborhood are some of the scenes found in “El Montevideano,” a series of The New Yorker-style covers drawn by Uruguayan illustrator Alfonso Rosso.

Initially intended only to update his professional portfolio, they ended up serving as a springboard for a new project: a like-named cultural magazine.

Although the 35-year-old Rosso said he had produced drawings his entire life, he decided in 2010 to devote himself to making illustrations, initially working for ad agencies or creating designs by special request.

Still not putting any personal stamp on his work and instead adapting it to meet the requirements of each particular assignment, he subsequently took a job at a videogame company.

Several years later, after leaving that firm in 2022 and trying to put together a portfolio of drawings that would showcase his own unique style, he stumbled upon an idea that would later inspire “El Montevideano.”

Rosso had been following the Instagram account of a former instructor of his at a graduate program in Barcelona, Spain, and one day saw that he had uploaded an illustration titled “The Barcelonian,” a work very similar in style to the covers of the famed American weekly magazine The New Yorker.

“I started looking into it and discovered that there were (illustrators in) several cities that were doing this project, as if they were New Yorker covers but from different cities. And I said, ‘why not do Montevideo?’ That’s how the project arose,” he said.

Rosso said nearly all the ideas for the covers – one for each month of the year – came to him one night when he was riding his bike in the capital.

“The first had been well thought out for some time because I bike-ride quite a bit on La Rambla (an avenue that runs along the coastline of Montevideo) and I also have a son who’s now about to turn two, and I always had the idea of riding my bike with him; so I had a vivid picture of that in my mind,” he said.

The others took shape during that nighttime bike ride, he added, noting that as he pedaled he would note down each idea on his phone.

“That February would be carnival seemed pretty logical, and later more gray images in (the Southern Hemisphere) winter,” Rosso said of covers that feature the vedettes who dance candombe during Carnival, as well as iconic sites like Solis Theater; the children’s attraction “Gusano Loco” (Crazy Worm) at the Rodo Park playground; and El Rosedal, a park known for its imported roses.

Although the illustrator said nearly all of the covers are based on “something quite personal,” he identified three as his favorites: the La Rambla scene, one that pays tribute to typical Montevideo bars and another of a street in which he recreates the facade of his childhood home.

Rosso now has his own Instagram followers, several of whom wanted him to continue the covers series. But he said he and other associates are using money they received from a cultural promotion fund to develop a new project known as El Montevideano magazine.

“It’s a project that’s still in the very early stages, but the idea is to make a magazine of the city and include a bunch of articles about culture, art, cinema, music, everything that might represent the city,” he said, adding that hopes are the publication can also be sold abroad. EFE


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