Maybe he is little known to the outside world, but Bel Borba is a household name in the most important historical city of Brazil — Salvador, the capital of the state of Bahia. Known as “The People’s Picasso,” Bel Borba eclectically represents a rarely seen side of Brazil. For 35 years, he has spread his recognized artwork throughout the 500-year-old urban landscape. From three- years old school kids to eighty-year old street venders, Bel Broba is everybody’s family member, and the city most beloved son. The sunny coastal city feeds Borba’s artistic vein. Combining talent, simplicity, and nature to create original work, he showcases the forgotten beauty of his country and reminds us there is more to Brazil than favelas, soccer, and drug lords in Rio de Janeiro. The true, beautiful essence of Brazil is poetically expressed by him with tiles, steel, wood, recycling materials, and sea sand, proving that the ocean is the limit. For a country already full of color, he engraves his devotion to art and his passion for his people.
Born to lawyer parents in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, Borba was expected to pursue a similar career, but realizing that his interest was in arts, he instead entered the School of Fine Arts of the University of Bahia, where he had his first public exhibition at the age of 18 in 1975. From a start as a painter, he soon began experimenting with different media. He initially became famous for his street mosaics that can be seen in a great many neighborhoods throughout Salvador, but he works in a variety of (often mixed) media including acrylic paint, oil, metals, digital renderings, ceramics and more. His work often has a humorous surrealistic quality. His art can be seen in museums, on airplanes, buildings, murals, totems, along the beaches of Salvador, in restaurants and hospitals throughout the city, from government commissioned large-scale public art, to little street corners and dark alleys. Some of his large scale of street mosaics arts recently has been recognized and selected as the landmark of the city of Salvador, and set to be part of the historical conservation of Bahia cultural heritage.
Mr. Borba has exhibited in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, several other Brazilian cities, as well as in Switzerland, France, Italy, and the US.