The Cry Out Performance

Sèrgio Bello

Sérgio Bello (1952) uses his artwork to generate dialogue between nature and mankind, changing cries and protests into painted poetry. Through his art-protest we can feel nature expression and finally understand what is happening between us and our natural world. Nature’s silent scream can only be understood through a great interpreter, can only be heard by those who have the privilege of observing and can only be understood through artistic expression and not just through words. This is what Sérgio believes and this is what he conveys through his artwork.

What do trees cry out for?
Trees cry out against the tree genocide. Forests are like body hair, like feathers of a bird. The world needs protection. Deforestation and forest fires are crimes we commit against the Earth. One of my paintings is entitled “Plucked Earth”. Trees cries are the cries of Indians, of animals, of children and of Mother Earth. We are the “enfants terribles”, doing it all against ourselves…
With social changes and constant technological breakthroughs, nature does not seem to be the priority in many plans.

What should we change?
We are losing our bond with nature and in this disposable society we are paying a very high price. We are wasting many lives because of our interest in a quick payback. The damage is already tangible because the Earth’s resources are not inexhaustible. Waste is accumulating and mankind is turning into it. We have to rush before we meet the worst scenario! We must manage to resist a generalized sterilization. There is no fate. There is a collective responsibility. You have to think differently. Global financial powers will crush men for raw material. Our cities are inundated with nitrates and none-ecological products. As long as we continue in the wrong track, biodiversity cannot resist the poison and will disappear into sterile and barren lands.

How do you define your art today?
The engine of my artistic creation is my indignation. Oh Earth! Humanity is sabotaging your beauty! Even if Mother Earth gives back the violence it receives, we stupid children continue to plant terrible ugliness. I want to create a poetic and engaging art. I want to create a protest. The titles of my drawings and my paintings are like eco-logical images between my mind and my pictorial images. Thus, they are cracked-earth, earth-polluted earth-fire, earth, cyclone, earth-screaming, terrible and sons of “Terranobyl”. My art is a way to transcend my personal and collective frustrations. I present a protest that belongs to our collective responsibility.

What is the mission of contemporary art?
Art shall question. Art must be challenging and make resistance. Painting is a visual to-do message. It is a mental exercise. It was also the same for Leonardo da Vinci for example. A painting is not created just for viewing or just to be admired. It is constructed to see through and especially to make you think. I want my paintings to get into the eyes and settle into the brains. Inside brains I want to plant questions. I think it should be like this for everyone. Art must work as critic to all our judgments and injustices.

In this world of quick changes, how do we harmonize industry and nature?
We will have to find a way to make these adjustments. Otherwise we will destroy, rather than preserve and disappear like dinosaurs. By questioning this contrast, I created a panel where half of it has urban and industrial material as a city on fire. Earth never asks, it cries, cries, cries!

Is there any way out?
I do not know how we will finally start a sustainable development, or if. I just know that each one of us must demand a “healthy community” as proposed by French sociologist Edgar Morin.

The fast industrialization process tends to run down the natural process of human adaptation to a new environment. How do we mitigate this process using art?
Art is a scream transformed into creation. I create, scream, cry. Screaming out, I get out of crises… economic crises, financial, social, energy and eco-logical ones. Cries of humanity, humanity’s crisis: the crisis of civilization! How do we transcend the screams? How do we exorcise the crisis? Being an artist in times of crisis is to be the opposite of a conformist.

What changes in your creative process to face the realities of these contemporary times?
More than ever, the artist must be a social screamer. I am a human cry! I paint our giant crises in colours! I use canvas as screams in silence to release my own crises on it and to avoid keeping it all inside of me! My best way of crying out is by reversing these challenging situations into opportunities. This helps me to resolve my bad feelings. I take a breath in the world crisis in which we seemed plunged. I take the brush as an arrow and aim at the target! Daring! Do not shut up! Resist! Persist! Insist as water drops in hard rock! Mark it!

How do we use art to align harmoniously with the immediate demands of the earth?
Simply create without destroying.

How does technology benefit your art without hurting it?
An artist can use all the technology of his time. I like to design using the technique of pen and ink and by water-colouring minimum details I create what I call “Echo-enluminures.” In these compositions I integrate many natural elements to my paintings such as plumes of tropical dead birds recovered in the Amazon. I pick volcanic sands in Iceland, dried leaves from the fall in France. I collect all that I see in India, Vietnam and throughout the world. And I love to use semi-precious stones from Brazil. Sometimes I make high definition scans and mix it onto a single canvas of two meters high. Then, I continue this composition as an alchemist using paintings and collages that promote biodiversity. I also use strands of vine, bark from trees, embalmed piranhas, fossils, bones, coral… everything that nature gives me spontaneously. Nothing is a minimalist composition.
Rather than baroque, I would call my work almost rococo. I refuse to be always the same!

Interview with Sergio Bello by Ricardo Fernandes

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