The beginnings of Hélio Petrus

The beginnings of Hélio Petrus

Hélio Petrus has lived in Mariana, Minas Gerais since the age of 7, and he was educated in the seminary. He always felt a strong religious influence from the characteristic Baroque art which filled the churches and monuments of his city.

While studying philosophy and letters at the university, he made his first essential contact with the works of the master, Aleijadinho. After that, he became interested in working in wood and started to carve his first sculptures in cedar wood.

Between time spent in college and work as a teacher, and without any formal art school, Hélio felt called to set out on his own path to carve sculptures. His initial work was challenging and promising. He was most agreeably surprised. Eventually, on one beautiful day, he made a life decision: To devote himself, body and soul, to the expression of art in the ways of his master, Aleijadinho.

His first attempts were timid sketches and popular but primitive pieces, but they were only the beginning of his work to express his vision Baroque art.

After 20 years of work and self-study, he began to incorporate further research and study of European Baroque works. The demand for his work grew, and he happily started to expand the capacity of his studio and to bring in other talented young artists to meet all the orders for his work.

As he improved his carving techniques with the aid of well-trained apprentices, Hélio ventured into a new realization of larger works, such as sculptures and monumental carvings.

The artist has become devoted to the development of ever more elaborate and exquisite works, such as carved panels, called “talhas” in Portuguese and bas-reliefs in English.

He had no intention to simply copy the old Baroque works, rather, he developed his own style by applying techniques in patina and polychrome to give a new transparency and softness to the genre of carved sacred figures. This new form has come to be called the Neo Baroque, and Hélio is the master of its expression.

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