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

From San Benito Alley
José Antonio Castro


  My first encounter with Bellorín now dates back to many years ago, in Maracaibo's San Benito Alley, which was very much in vogue at the time. There, we were neighbors and began our lifelong friendship. In those days, Bellorín was a wiry and restless youth, filled with the vibrant energy that is still with him and propels his unending work as a painter and his constant search for artistic expression. San Benito Alley was an alley of lost souls. The people there carried heavy emotional burdens: musicians, lonely biographers, painters that had lost their way, oppressed feminists, poets filled with angst, prostitutes and odd thespians. They were all young and making their way through life, struggling, dreaming and awaiting the opportunity to take the sleeping city and all of its social and artistic conventions by storm.

  There, in a small house in the alley, Bellorín worked tirelessly. He had already shown his art in one exhibit and from that moment on he only kept one of his own paintings, the one of a bush covered in thorns, pure and simple. Soon thereafter he began to paint the vegetable series: large, intensely colorful and filled with a symbolism that sometimes manifested itself openly and reminded us of the female sex, an eroticism contained within the perceived threat of the sexual. Many years later, I saw the works of Georgia O'Keeffe at an exhibit in Chicago and I admired those enormous, beautiful and suggestive flowers that insinuated the most intimate of a female's anatomy, her genitalia, and I recalled the paintings of young Bellorín from San Benito Alley. There, in his humble studio, the young and talented painter unintentionally established an intimate connection with a woman far removed in time and space and who, in those years, was not well known. As the poet Lezama would say, "While turning on the light switch, Bellorín not only turned on the light, but he christened a waterfall in Ontario." Bellorín painted some grand and colorful vegetables on his canvases, and with them he established this spiritual and intimate link with an American woman who painted great and colorful flowers on her canvases. This woman went on with her life and was true to her colors. There were always flowers in the paintings of Georgia O'Keeffe until the day she died. In contrast with O'Keeffe, Bellorín made that organic motif the foundation of his sense of aesthetics, rather than a focal point of his actual works. Bellorín was like lightning: he never struck twice in the same spot, i.e., he never stayed with one theme or one style. His artistic objective was a perpetual search that was almost to the point of anguish. From realism he went on to surrealism, then to metaphysical paintings, finally he moved to abstract painting and in today's paintings we can observe the technique of action painting.

  While gifted with a vivid imagination and a great talent for drawing and realistic painting, Bellorín actually moved farther away from this style of painting. For a few years he painted using elements that reproduced the composition of a dream. But they were not his dreams, nor were they really dreams, but rather the invention of a dream in themselves, i.e., the way in which the painter has traditionally seen what objectively makes up a dream. Bellorín did many paintings in this style to the extent that he came to dominate the style in such a way that he could reproduce "dreams" for any given theme. That is what happened when we worked together on a poem anthology entitled "Bárbara memoria" and he tried to paint love, which was the main theme of the poems. He drew legs suspended in the air, an apple, a heart from a distended perspective to create the feeling of being suspended that we have in dreams.
This aspect of Bellorín's work that we are discussing could also be attributed to Dalí or Magritte, where dreams are codes that need to be deciphered in order to transfer them to the canvas where they can be organized, placed in a sequence and in a logical sense that comes from the painter's reason and not his subconscious, which is where dreams are born.

However, sometimes there are mysterious elements that jump out of some of Bellorín's paintings. For example, I recall a painting he did in 1968 and which he was retouching because of some deterioration. It is the painting of a sitting man, we assume, in a maroon-colored desert. The painting conveys the feeling of infiniteness, and the man who is sitting there before us, with a frail cane in his hands, has no face. He has no eyes, mouth, nose, ears or hair. His head resembles an egg.

Maybe there is a human condition that negates itself. Already in the European culture the novel "The Man Without Attributes" by Musil had touched, in a literary fashion, a topic similar to that discussed by the German philosopher, Heidegger. In Venezuela, Los pequeños seres written by Salvador Garmendía, develops the theme of a man who becomes blurred, who self-destructs and stops being what he once was. Beyond all possible cultural connotations in the above-referenced painting we feel an atmosphere, an aura, which is an elusive and hard to gauge element of dreams.

  Beginning with the creation of auras, I believe, surreal art can approach the essence of the movement, the vibration of the fantastic, to express the mystery hidden in the complex universe of dreams.

  Today is Sunday and I visit Bellorín in his workshop. We talk about many things: the art market, family, and the pursuit of an ordinary life. Behind the painter I can see his new paintings: large canvases where the artist unwinds the paths he has already traveled. His obsession is now abstract art, the exploration of color itself, and there he dives in with the usual energy, with the sensibility and the wisdom accumulated through so many years of living for art.