Born and raised in a rubber plantation, Hélio Melo (1926-2001) was a rubber tapper, boatman, barber, watchman, writer, poet, musician and artist. From the late 1970s onwards, after moving to Rio Branco (capital of Acre, a state in the Amazon region) and starting to paint the forest from memory, he participated in the first exhibitions in the region, drawing the attention of important artists and critics, such as Sergio Camargo and Frederico Morais, who became great admirers of his work.
“In the vast majority of his works, the scene is structured in a very conventional way, with a foreground close to the ground, formed by low plants or tall grass, vertical elements (basically trees) that close the scene on both sides and, in the space delimited by these axes, the characters. It is a theatrical or cinematographic construction of space that suggests, therefore, a staging and a mise en scène, not a flat, direct and naive reproduction of reality”, says Jacopo.
The exhibition brings the forest portrayed by Melo and remains current even after a little over 20 years of his death, ancestral, mythical and fabulous. “An organism that feeds and is fed, that somatizes violence and destruction, that cries along with the animals, that gets emotional, suffers and, in its own way, speaks (...) Directly or indirectly, several drawings and paintings by Melo suggest that it is from the forest that things are organized and structured, and make explicit the equivalence between the characters that appear on the scene”, writes Jacopo for the book that is being prepared about the artist.
Curated by Jacopo Crivelli Visconti
From March 23rd to May 20th, 2023.