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

The Universal and the Particular:
Two Constants in the Works of Francisco Bellorín
Roberto Guevara


The most beautiful world order is like a bunch of refuse thrown into the air- the phrase comes to us through twenty-five centuries and it belongs to one of the most original and daring Greeks: Heracles of Ephesus.

From the time that Heidegger, without any doubt the most important, renowned and controversial philosopher of our century, began his process of deconstructing the history of philosophy, until he turned it into a "field of routines", he retained the temples, or tensions, or vital and constant dispositions. This was a very lucid disposition until we come to the great questions. Among the fragments he rescued are two very important ones: on the one hand, the common philosophers of those remote times, before the great organizers, Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, and first among them, the terrible logician Parmenides. The philosophers who did not develop systems left behind free thoughts and dialectics capable of conceiving everything, including contradictions.

Today we require a little of this rebellious and unruly thinking, that while although systematized at times, similar to Hegel's dialectics (basis of Marxist discourse), has survived because the principle in itself carries the seed of its own destruction, as well as its own regeneration.

This is an excellent starting point to approach an artist who is eminently free and opposed to all formulations that could result in any limitations: Francisco Bellorín.

We all know his work. Some more than others, we have been able to confirm his autonomy in light of the dogmatic tendencies and the styles influenced by fashion everywhere on this planet that, thanks to the information age, has effectively became very small.
We all know that Bellorín knows no boundaries nor does he aspire to any form of recognition that may imply classification or determination. Bellorín is a born creator who translates his thoughts into revealing action, that is to say, into art. His conception of the world is expressed entirely through his art. Thus, approaching his work is not only accompanying the artist's existence, but also in a special way, his core values.

His particular ways of understanding the processes of nature and his relations to the immense cultural heredity that all of us, in one way or another, carry within us, allow us to "have a clue about the world", that is to say, to help create the meaning of reality.
Bellorín is a cosmopolitan artist, a citizen of the world, a being of the twentieth century. He is the witness and the actor of a revolutionary feat that attempts to make us aware of what we are so that the hope of creating a better future becomes more feasible.
Bellorín is not alien to the luck of the universe or of society around him. Essentially, the weight of injustice without first names, last names, races or nationalities rests on Venezuela's shoulders. There are no times or circumstances.

Bellorín is committed to himself. He accepts Findings as well as Doubt, Achievement as well as Dissatisfaction.
The above idea, let us say once and for all, makes his art dialectic. That is, we have to recognize that his art is active, in opposition with itself, capable of confronting what is done and tackling what has yet to be created.

All of this can seem good or bad, and it may sound too abstract. Let's see the individual and begin with him, his work and his concepts.

Francisco Bellorín is a unique and irreplaceable human being, like all of us. The difference lies in the fact that he knows it. Moreover, he has professed a belief in the specific and alternative aspects of each destiny. Let me give you a little history to accompany the artist.
He was born in Caripito more than four decades ago. There he underwent some of his life's most pivotal experiences: his childhood, the period where all is engraved forever in us. He tells us about his first encounters with the world: "My childhood was spent in an exuberantly wild area. At the end of the street where I lived with my parents there was a huge forest in which I sometimes wandered with great enthusiasm".

He traveled to Caracas and Catia and met Máximo Martínez, a painter who told him about the Cristóbal Rojas Plastic Arts School, where Bellorín soon learned the techniques and processes of art and, along with Marcos Castillo and Rafael Monasterios González, he discovered the value of friendship, of solidarity and the need for what Bellorín himself calls "a place in the scheme of things".
We already have two elements: the icons of the Vegetal Realm and the Value of the Temple. Later there would be others. Europe does not represent unity, but rather a disperse variety. Bellorín absorbs it with passion but without awe. He lives, studies and matures through his experiences in Brussels, Paris, Madrid and Morocco. The latter was the region where he found the greatest claim because the roots were the home of daily life and daily life is the task of life, a verb that is conjugated every instant, like a song.
In 1979, he remembered the words of a Belgian professor who was also his friend: "To create moss, the rocks must stop."
New elements. The Multiple Gaze, Criticism, Synthesizing, the value of belonging: particularly to exist and to take root in his destiny.
The artist himself concludes, "Each individual is the result of what he has inherited, of what he has seen and taught…" Similarly through that "umbilical chord" that attaches us to a dynamic reality we are, "The more or less joyful consequence of all artists that precede us in time."

This exceptionally lucid creed of Bellorín's only needed to be verified by experience: to live his art and to accept reality as a challenge to liberty and invention.

In order to achieve this, Bellorín went on an intense journey. In 1961, he traveled to Paris, studied painting, and considered surrealism. A year later he went to Rome and continued with metal engraving techniques. In 1963, he went to Spain and Northern Africa; he exhibited his work, sketched, and gained from people a way of being and recreating life. Later in Brussels, he continued to be interested in engraving (Royal Academy of Fine Arts) and presented his first surrealist exhibit. In 1965, he received an award at the Academy and returned to Venezuela.

In Venezuela he shared his creative work in his academic work. He was first in complementary activities (painting and engraving) at the Julio Arraga Plastic Arts School of Maracaibo (1966-1968). Starting in 1974, he went to the University of Zulia where he founded the engraving studio there.

During all of this time he worked, exhibited and embarked on new journeys. In 1972, he went to Switzerland and Poland. In 1973, he traveled to Mexico.

During this stage in which his principal line of work was on paper, sketching and engraving alternated and complemented each other. They were the basis of an immediate and confident investigation that he used, first of all, to dig deeper into the subconscious, and then to recreate it within the freedom of the daily routine and of course, that which is closer and more luminous.

Drawing was his basis, "I am before all a sketcher," says the artist, "a sketcher who, by the way, does not feel it is enough to have the ability to explore only one conquest. My work is ambivalent, heterogeneous. I could not conceive it in only one sense, because I, as a person, never take the same direction more than once."

Drawing is exploring. Human beings are duality, the question that asks itself again. Man is the only creature that always has within him a question about his own being, his own self, and the essence of all that exists or is imaginable. This is the duality on which Francisco Bellorín's work was going to grow: Matter and Dream. And by consequence, the Real and the Imaginary, the Immediate and the Transcendental, the Particular and the Universal and in this dialectic he confronted the human condition: particular, temporal and ephemeral after all. Yet at the same time humankind is also filled with eternal longings, by universes that humans themselves have created and which surpassed them and broadened the meaning of their existence.

Due to his training as a sketcher, a background that he honorably shares in common with Wilfredo Lam and Pablo Picasso, to cite a few illustrious examples, Bellorín's pictorial works developed on a strong foundation.

Drawing strengthens, conducts and organizes. But it also recollects: it brings forth dreams and memories of sensations apparently lost. All of this material is essential and will be contribute to his paintings.

From the now remote past of feelings akin to surrealism, what remains, as is the case with all great experiences in life, is the assimilation; that is to say, the way in which the experiences become part of the artist.

The same happens with all other great experiences from the cultural past, be it classical, Renaissance or pre-Hispanic, there is no need to quote precise sources, and from those experiences we see the emergence of two fundamental elements of Bellorín's art: what he accepts and assumes, and what he discards or rejects.

Bellorín's choice is clear. His world is essential. He discards chronicles and regional iconography and he accepts the permanent, recurring obsessions, mythical origins that are reformulated by contemporary man.

This is how we arrive at the great theme in Bellorín's art: woman as a symbol of life, of mystery, of the continuity of existence, similar to Picasso's work. This central theme is as natural as welcoming the light of a new day. It is the incarnation of nature and its relation to us.

If Bellorín spends a little more time on his sketches to point out objects or the framework from which his characters evolve, synthesis becomes a constant necessity in his painting.

Exhibits such as the one celebrated at the Museum of Graphic Arts of Maracaibo (1979), the National Art Gallery (1980) and the Fine Arts Center also in Maracaibo (1984) neatly reveal the rhythmic counterpoint of his media. His drawings investigate. The paintings affirm.

Made into substance, modulation is music, variable and development. It is indisputable that the vegetable woman comes from afar, from that perception in the vegetable realm that powerful forces are engendered in the womb of the earth, Primordial Woman, who doubles as grass, weed and greenery - as is suggested by Laura Antillano in her 1979 study about Bellorín's works - that "woman, tree, airborne and multiple that will inhabit almost all of Bellorín's work."

Laura Antillano confirms that "Bellorín establishes the great metaphor of dreams, giving birth to the vegetable woman, a woman of exulted poetic ascent, the mysterious and serene woman who breaths as the sap renews life by flowing through the stem."
We can retain some elements of this analysis: Mysterious and Serene, both conditions of Bellorín's art, secret because of its symbols and its integrating synthesis, but balanced and secure; expansive, because it is a creation that has its origins in vital convictions.
Thus, his works of art express multiple affiliations and conserve unity. In some cases we can find hints of surrealism, in others Bellorín's transparent and flexible architecture can remind us of cubist solutions and archetypes of modern painting. Yet in further works, the strength of the syncretism is greater and almost flows into abstraction via decantation. However, there are always dynamic elements confronting each other that maintain the belligerence of the work of art.

At that point, between the decades of the 1970s and the 1980s, Bellorín's work reached the apex of a process. Matter and Dream, the exhibit at the National Art Gallery in the 1980s could be an adequate reference point. The great shapes of plain colors constitute a plastic basis for the inscribed design and the more subtle suggestions brought forth by textures and tones
.
There is a constant game of possibilities: the abstract, strong, luminous or absolute in its penumbra, the ardent, precise and equally evasive imagination, suggestive and hidden, which is the soul of the painting.

All that is personal is melted down right there. The memories, experiences, desires, the exact way in which we have thought of and imagined what is real in apparent, sensual and provocative worlds; and the others, the meditative ones and the analytical ones that leave behind reverberations.

Bellorín's work has few themes, like the works of many great artists. We need not go far to find an example: Picasso, who never painted landscapes as such and who distanced himself a little from the daily universe, lest we count the mythical and Mediterranean beings such as Minotaur, and the feasts of his imagination which are not alien to a bed, table, wine, bread, man and woman.
Bellorín has been one of Venezuela's most consistent creators. He has followed painting and art, not references or circumstances. It is a way of remaining loyal to himself and all that accompanies him throughout his life; his art is based on it after all.

This is how he can be both particular, a being who is born and assumes his own origin, who experiences that which life offers and which sensibility registers, and accepts the facts of every day, but by an equally instinctive necessity he recreates and transforms these facts. He nurtures his experiences of today with the "exuberant forests" and the magical nights of his childhood or with the remorseless desires that gallop in the blood, or with the irresistible force of the fantastic that emerges as a need to exist. One of the consequences of this is he must work with the essential. He does not transmit memories, but the feeling of evidence that becomes current again and we do not know what happened or what it is remembering, but we know it is a strange, revealing and fascinating alliance.

Bellorín's work lately has changed its makeup. From the precise terms of the past, he has moved on to the suggestive. His work has a more flexible rhythm, a new interest in space per se as a source of presence and transparency. New fields unite - in short - art is his permanent way to recreate the vastest life or the simplest life. What is real is an image that constantly renews itself.

In a way, this step is significant from a historical point of view. Bellorín's painting of the 1980s, with its bitter doubts and its primary need for expression, has provoked a revolution that is not bloody but it is radical. There will inevitably be a before and after stemming from this impact.

Painting then has two possible avenues. It can continue and prolong what is already a historical reality, accomplished, but possibly not exhausted regardless of the point of view of the established languages and styles. Or it can become something else. It can invent or create a new destiny for the image.

Knowing Bellorín and his admitted need for change and transmutation, we must think he will choose the second option. This exhibit demonstrates it. It is a new way of looking at things. It is the conquest of the space between things; the space between one presence and another one and another one; the area of real times, chimeric or fictitious that inhabit us like impossible landscapes. Bellorín has always been aware of that and he continues expressing it, now with new resources.