Mormon Arts Center

Journal

Board members and participants capture behind-the-scenes activities of the Mormon Arts Center in frequent posts.

Olá. Eu sou Hildebrando de Melo

We are pleased to announce that the Mormon Arts Center has granted its first artist's residency to the painter and sculptor Hildebrando de Melo. The residency will consist of the Center bringing Hildebrando from his home in Luanda, Angola to New York City to create new works that will be exhibited at the Festival in June. And then to bring him back again to participate in the Festival itself.

I'm making it sound like that was easy. Trust me, it's no simple task to get permissions from nations for travel in our current political climate--even short-term stays like this. But we received word yesterday, finally, that all is set, and HIldebrando will be coming to New York.

Is there anything more exciting than the discovery of extraordinary artists? I became aware of Hildebrando de Melo in January 2010. A friend of mine, Thomas Holst, was working in Angola in the oil industry, and he told me about a young painter in his LDS branch who was beginning to be exhibited widely and whose work and life story were entirely unique. I conducted a short interview with Hildebrando at the time, who speaks Portuguese and Umbundu but manages in English just fine, and I asked him how he would describe his paintings to people seeing them for the first time. He said, "I think they have something that attracts the viewer’s attention. I don't know how to explain it. It’s related to the aura of God, the idea of creation from God. They look like petroglyphs, but they are also very contemporary. This artwork has come through my hard studies to find a simplicity and a new form of painting. That´s what I want to share with my times. Because art is the fruit of its time.

"But there is also the other perspective, that viewers must get into the artwork for them to bring new worlds and see new things. Art viewers see things that in other ways they would never see. That´s why I have faith that in this regard, art is from God. We painters are an instrument in the hands of God, and we receive energy from him and only translate that energy into the art. That´s why something spiritual happens between the viewer and the artwork, I think."

That was eight years ago. Since then, the artwork of Hildebrando de Melo has been exhibited at some of the world's most important venues, including the Venice Bienale and ARCO Madrid. It is an honor to be able to present a solo exhibition of new works by the artist, created for the Festival exhibition, which will be titled, IN CONTROL­­_an energy that comes and goes. 

Glen Nelson