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Bela Silva at the gallery Rui Freire – Fine Art

In Bela Silva’s work, each brushstroke is undulating, vibrant and vehemently reflected in the modelling of the ceramic matter. It summons those once vigorous and energetic gestures felt in the works of artists of the first avant-garde movements, such as the expressionists, the Fauve, or the cubists, with their subjectivities and interiorities.

We can mention the artist Pablo Picasso. The vigour, the impetuosity, the pictorial strength and the gesture, things that Bela Silva liked about this artist and that she added to her work.

Bela Silva had, at the age of six, the first contact with the work of this great painter. From an early age, she learned to value the artist’s polyvalence, the plurality of means of expression, such as sculpture, drawing, painting, and ceramics.

Bela Silva’s work has an experimental side, where there is room for a total work of art, a Gesamtkunstwerk. According to Anne Bony, the artist learned from a Spanish architect, whom she met when one day she ventured into an excavation somewhere in Greece due to her fondness for archaeology.

We also find a clear reference to architecture, suggested by the sculptural forms she develops, and present in the exhibition, with references to architectural elements from antiquity. The artist is an excellent observer and the architectural forms do not go unnoticed to her. This taste is enhanced by her contact with different cities and typologies, and by her academic training in the United States in 1994 when she studied at the Chicago Art Institute. The school provided a great example of modernist architecture, of enormous reference, such as the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.

The exhibition also presents a group of drawings, in various colours, in large and medium sizes, made between 1995 and 2020. They show a collection of plant and animalist elements, in a clear allusion to nature.

This venture into nature uses modernist tools but in a slightly different approach. The artists of the early avant-garde movements had to move away from naturalistic representation. The machine was praised. Progress and speed seemed to be the new paradigms or symbols of technological evolution.

Bela Silva seems to appreciate the dynamism and speed of that period. She uses her tools and utensils, but perhaps to alert us, to call our attention to natural forms and their fast and gargantuan extinction. Nature is self-regulating, Aristotle once said. But man has proved that he can dethrone it and diminish its diversity. Bela Silva appears to want to warn about the end of this destruction. With the patience of an archaeologist, she registers each specimen, in the hope of melancholically preserving the little that is already lost.

Until January 9, 2021, at the gallery Rui Freire – Fine Art.

Carla Carbone was born in Lisbon, 1971. She studied Drawing in Ar.co and Design of Equipment at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Lisbon. Completed his Masters in Visual Arts Teaching. She writes about Design since 1999, first in the newspaper O Independente, then in editions like Anuário de Design, arq.a magazine, DIF, Parq. She also participates in editions such as FRAME, Diário Digital, Wrongwrong, and in the collection of Portuguese designers, edited by the newspaper Público. She collaborated with illustrations for Fanzine Flanzine and Gerador magazine. (photo: Eurico Lino Vale)

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