Rui Chafes was born in 1966 in Lisbon, where he currently lives and works. In 1989 he graduated in sculpture from the Faculdade de Belas-Artes de Lisboa. Between 1990 and 1992 he studied with Gerhard Merz at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in Germany. During this stay he translated the Novalis Fragments from German into Portuguese. Since the mid-1980s, he has exhibited his work in Portugal and abroad. He represented Portugal at the 46th Venice Bienniale in 1995 (with José Pedro Croft and Pedro Cabrita Reis) and at the 26th São Paulo Bienniale in 2004 (in a joint project with Vera Mantero). In 2013 he was one of the international artists invited to exhibit in the Republic of Cuba’s pavilion at the 55th Venice Bienniale. In Portugal, he has staged solo exhibitions at various key institutions, including the Centro de Arte Moderna, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation; the Serralves Museum (with Pedro Costa); the Centro Cultural de Belém; the Sintra Museu de Arte Moderna; the Palácio Nacional da Pena; and the Museu Coleção Berardo (with Orla Barry). Overseas, he has staged solo exhibitions at institutions such as the S.M.A.K. (Ghent, Belgium); the Folkwang Museum (Essen, Germany); the Esbjerg Kunstmuseum (Denmark); the Nikolaj Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center (Copenhagen, Denmark); Fondazione Volume! (Rome, Italy); the Fundação Eva Klabin (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil); the Fundación Luis Seoane (A Coruña, Spain); the Hara Museum, with Pedro Costa (Tokyo, Japan); and the Museu de Arte Moderna (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). He has participated in a large number of group shows. In addition, several of his sculptures are on permanent display in public spaces in Portugal and abroad. In 2004 he was awarded the Robert-Jacobsen Sculpture Prize by the Stiftung Würth in Germany, and in 2015 the Prémio Pessoa in Portugal. Part of his activity is dedicated to writing and translating as well as organizing and publishing the books that accompany his sculptural work.
He has dedicated part of his work to writing and also to the development of books that bring together his sculptural work, almost always created in black painted iron, in the search for forms, the solidity of which is associated with a disquieting imaginary drift.