Critiques By:
Sergio Antillano - José Antonio Castro - Roberto Guevara
Cesar David Rincón - Rafael Pineda - Peram Erminy
Carlos Contramaestre

Bellorín's Universal Vocation
Sergio Antillano

  Not only is Bellorín an exceptionally talented artist, but he is also an educated creator who has followed with unique ability the historical development of painting. He is aware of the many evolutions that artistic styles have undergone. The artist's anthological exhibit at the "Centro de Arte de Maracaibo Lía Bermúdez", takes the viewer on an extensive journey, affirming the particularities, enrichments, modifications, subtle changes and breadth of knowledge of one of today's finest Venezuelan artists. The viewer is assured, for example, that during more than three feverish decades of creation, Bellorín remains loyal to his role as a classical painter, conserving the principles that govern the lines that enclose forms, although sometimes his modeling is so soft that he manages to surpass a plastic effect. Chief among his virtues is that of being a master sketcher. His inclination is to visualize through silhouettes. Generally tactile, he rarely leaves his orientation to chance, yet he is always flexible, free and flowing. This does not prevent him from surprising us with drawings without lines, where the lines have been replaced by juxtaposed color values.

  If Bellorín's work has one particular hallmark, it is color. Already in his work of the 1970s and 1980s, we can see his determination to give color center stage. This is a tendency that will lead him, at the time of his artistic maturity, to liberate tonalities in unusual rhythmic games that, aside from providing a greater luminous intensity, give the ensemble total chromatic splendor in which numerous short brush strokes evoke the strength and dynamism of great contemporary music.

  Similar observations with regard to the artist's spiritual-technical development and his debt to classicism can be made with regard to the unity of his work. Bellorín achieves this unity by making all parts of the painting act independently of one other, similar to standalone organs. This is his principal methodology and in many cases we can appreciate how it reinforces the color or tones "visible to the spectator", as Wolfflin suggested, through the use of complementary shadowing. Just how exactly the Classical style inherited from the Baroque arsenal such a noble resource, is a phenomenon that this young master, who advanced side by side with many masters of the century, manifests in this exhibit. In this exhibit we can also see how Bellorín developed his analytical strength to the extent that he appropriated the legitimate procedures that would allow him to evolve and derive from the tectonic to the non-tectonic, from a linear style to a pictorial one, with ample use of the technique of synthesis provided by the various artistic movements that have influenced the visual arts.

  José Francisco Bellorín finished his academic studies at the Cristóbal Rojas School in Caracas at the end of the 1950s, the years of greatest conceptual upheaval to date in the history of Venezuelan painting. It was during the 1950s that the generations of the Taller Libre del Arte and the Dissidents moved the Venezuelan intellectual world with their avant-garde art. It was a decade during which many collections of abstract art were exhibited for the first time. Those were years of constructivism and the first exhibits by Jesús Soto and the Coloritmos of Alejandro Otero. Those days brought a renewal of the ideals of traditional Venezuelan art. They were also the times in which Armando Reverón died and thus his legacy was reevaluated at a national level.

  These events had a profound impact on the sensibility of the young students of the group directed by Francisco Narváez. When the 1960s began, the newly minted graduate, Bellorín, visited the museums of Paris and settled down in Rome where he began to paint with intensity. Yet suddenly, he gathered his belongings as quickly as he had set them down, and he escaped to Belgium to study graphic arts techniques in depth. Then, he swung like a pendulum toward North Africa. In Morocco, he was moved by the craftsmanship. It was a time of reflection. Art had awakened from the abstract-concrete dream. A "Second World War" of art was instigated. The artists persecuted by the Nazis took refuge in France and brought about great changes. The creators of the 1940s returned to new forms. First there was lyrical abstraction immediately followed by raw art. For Hartung, the world was a line. For Debuffet, it was drunken stupor, chance and dementia. Action painting blanketed the world. Automatic gestures reigned, and then Op Art snuck in bringing with it came the movement arts, competing directly with the informal arts. Abstract painting had become integrated with emotions and human nature. This was the moment chosen by the man from Caripito to take the stage in Paris. Everything was topsy-turvy. It was time for pensive repose.

  The museums and galleries were full of masterpieces: antiques, modern art, and today's art. Calmly, the Venezuelan worked. Picasso loomed in the background - his Blue Period, the revision of Cubism. Others had discovered in Cubism a decorative possibility. Something constantly attracted Bellorín to metaphysical painting. In Rome, he felt his proximity to Carrá and Chirico. All of these events preceded surrealism. While exploring, Bellorín discovered that he preferred symbolic representations. Max Ernst had substantial commentary with regard to Bellorín's style. Nevertheless, the criollo fought against the tide. He went to Europe to understand the extent of the impact of his work. In the ferocious struggle that ensued, he could not avoid being seriously attacked from all sides. He reencountered Klee, and Kandinsky, and the stained canvases multiplied. Surrealism opened the door to new directions. Ultimately, his encounter with Magritte was an event that had a lasting effect on Bellorín.

  In 1965, Bellorín returned to Venezuela. A professorship in Maracaibo awaited him. There he found his destiny, his love: a passion to see his ideals proliferate through his students. At the Julio Arraga school he discovered Filiberto Cuevas. He lent momentum to the people at "La Mandragora". He was a teacher for Laura, Luz Marina, Aguirre, and the puppeteers themselves, including Blás Perozo. A puppet is thus designed and thus given life. In Maracaibo, José Ramón Sánchez and Hernán Alvarado met to organize their first exhibits. Diego Barboza also joined the group. "El Negro," as Mary called Bellorín, joined the University of Zulia and founded the graphic arts studios. A Teacher and a leader wherever he went, Bellorín motivated with his brilliant posters, his book and magazine designs, as well as any activity he undertook and filled with light. He produced set designs, theatre costumes and dance. The city reveled in the Bellorín style. In the meantime, with Mary, he started an artistic and professional family. His love for travel grew and he traveled with his family to Europe and Mexico. Along with Lía Bermúdez, he co-chaired the Graphics Communications Department of the School of Journalism and today he can be seen organizing the Experimental School of Art and Light.

  The most significant thing we can recognize in Bellorín is that he embodies the prototype of the Latin American artist: firmly rooted in this continent and his homeland, yet naturally universal. A master of colossal intelligence, rigorously trained in the European culture, Bellorín assimilates it without any inferiority complex. As Alfonso Reyes states, "We emulate Europe starting in the first grade." We certainly surpass them, since we are forewarned that although we are currently overseeing a synthesis, we remain aware of our destiny: to produce a utopia. The success of our novels is a good example of this destiny, and painters such as Bellorín are another potent example.