Hélio Petrus: The epitomy of pride from Mariana

Hélio Petrus: The epitomy of pride from Mariana

Hélio Petrus: The epitomy of pride from Mariana


The term is derived from the Baroque movement that emerged in the early 17th century in Italy and extended across Europe and Latin America, where it developed during the 18th and early 19th century. Throughout the Counter Reformation, the Catholic Church used Baroque art in an attempt to contain the advance of Protestantism.

The Baroque art of Minas Gerais, Brazil

During the 18th century, while Europe was experiencing the artistic conceptions of Neo Classicism, the development of colonial art in Minas Gerais resisted these innovations and kept to a late, but singular Baroque style. The geographical distance from Brazil’s coast and the difficulties of importing materials and building techniques gave the baroque style of Minas Gerais a unique character which fostered the creation of an art marked by its own regional flavor. The word Minas means mines in English, and baroque art brought urban religion to the small mining towns of the interior of Brazil. The baroque icons and patron saints expressed an intimate part of the beliefs for those isolated faithful. It was the only available form of religious expression. There arose artists who worked with the material conditions of the region and adapted artistic ideals to their everyday experience. Antônio Francisc Lisboa Aleijadinho and Manuel da Costa Ataide are the exponents of this art, adapted to the tropical environment and linked to resources and regional values.


Talhas in Portugues; Bas reliefs in English

The word “talha” is derived from the Portuguese verb “entalhar,” which means to carve or notch. The precursor to this style was Donatello, who later inspired Michelangelo. The bas relief is found as altar pieces and ornaments in bronze or golden bronze pulpits. At first, the technique offered huge scenes with perfect perspective, lending depth with minimal resources. The European Baroque valued the figurative, but in the 18th century the importance of the figurative carved statue overtook the “talha ornamentista,” or bas relief. Hélio Petrus pioneers the style of neo-Baroque, or new style of Baroque, which still explores how the master Donatello enriched the landscapes of the bas relief. Very few sculptors of today have dedicated themselves to the art of bas relief sculptor. The proportion and perspective of the objects require shades of varied sizes and perspectives, and it consumes months of work. This perfectionism is still a striking feature of the neo-Baroque art.  Unlike the religious art of the 18th century, the “neo” carving is gentler and the details are more highly valued. The sculptures acquire movement and allow uniform dimensions to be viewed from all angles, as much or more so in the bas relief as is seen in a painting.


The Monochrome

It was only in the interior state of Minas Gerais, and particularly in the small, historic town of Mariana where a new variant of Baroque religious iconography was born: The monochrome patina. Hélio Petrus was the forerunner of a new interpretation of the 18th century by finely adapting a cast of monochrome with a little gilding which refines the aesthetic richness of the sculpted surface. The monochrome highlights the carved contours. Finding inspiration in the paintings of Rubens, Petrus unraveled the dramatic Baroque density by introducing in his works the lightness of the Rococo. Unlike the intensity of the drama characteristic of the Baroque, his works breath with happiness that transcends the earthly bonds of humanity. The characters of his figurative art bare delight in witness to the sublime possibility of life in God’s Kingdom.

Source: Folha Maianense, por Richardo Guimares, Junho 2004

Este post também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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