hélio de sousa                                                         


When I was 20 years old, I accepted the invitation from a friend who lived in New York and lived a dream I had had since I was a boy, when I made sculptures of the Empire State building from piles of sand. In the small town called Claudio, in Minas Gerais, my mind crossed the dreamlike frontiers of reality and I saw myself in the Big Apple, hypnotized by the enchantment of modernism, of the cultural revolution and the best possibilities for work. 

I arrived in the United States in 1977, at the same time that Studio 54 was starting, where I lived a fantastic life of a free generation, open and creative. I witnessed the thrilling delirium  of an unparalleled cultural mixture, which was expressed freely, punctuating the speed of this marvelous city with art; people such as Andy Warhol, Basquiat and many other inspiring beings.

I clearly remember when I was a junior school pupil and on the way home, I dedicated myself to framing the sky with my fingers, the mountains, the objects and the people, as if framing them for a picture – an exercise in capturing what my emotion saw artistically. And this process took me over completely... I copied images on paper all the time, even in classrooms, completely distracted from the subjects being taught.

At the age of 18 I went to Belo Horizonte (MG) where I met people related to the world of art and culture. I soon enrolled myself at FUMA (Mineira University Arts Faculty) and was overcome by the fascination of the unending variation of colors and through them by the power to express and portray my subjectivity over the forms I felt or saw. So I then experimented with this fascinating skill.

A little later, this process was interrupted by the chance to live in the city of my dreams, New York, and to do everything there hat was necessary to guarantee my survival: I went to public school, I accepted jobs I would not have had in Brazil and followed a path like an arrow towards a target, which was always the world of the arts.

Living in New York has its price and for this reason I sought to become a professional as soon as possible. I took a course in cosmetics, and became a professional with a good reputation and the owner of a salon. As a hairdresser, I started working and to express myself through form, structure and in the marriage of colors.

Many years passed without taking up a paintbrush. Then, in an existential crisis, I realized I was sad, missing that child who was happy to frame the world with his hands. It was when I was returning from a yoga class that I saw Andy Warhol’s boot published in a newspaper. Moved by my instinct I decided to paint my idol from that image, which for me clearly expressed the soul of the great artist Warhol.

When I finished the painting I found myself smiling in the mirror, happy to have refound the boy who had slept for so long inside me.

It was so clear to me to see the face and the soul of a person, their time from a shoe, that the idea was born to portray someone by means of a shoe.

The first shoe, Andy Warhol’s boot, was total inspiration. People liked the idea very much and began ordering paintings from me, to portray memories of a time, a story, a person, a special moment. Among them there are quite well known people and also striking moments in their lives recorded through a shoe, as in the case of the well known restaurateur Ligia Bastiane who has a painting with the Lolf (shoe) that she used when she prepared dinners for the occasion of the Pope’s visit to New York. Besides this, unconsciously I choose unknown people and portray them through shoes, as in the case of those being exhibited in Barney’s store in New York, who set aside a wall in the men’s department for my pictures.

A shoe represents much more than comfort for the feet. It is such an intense form of expression that it can transform the person and their characteristics. It can create the most varied of attitudes, funny, childish, exuberant, austere, sensual, indifference and many other expressions. Thus, “Shoe has soul” is the title I gave to my book, which will be published with the photos of the shoes I painted.

Looking to the future I would like my art to evolve with sincerity, armed with my perceptions and interpretations about my emotions. I want to let it flow without a trying to intellectualize, summarizing myself in a particle of the world, but with sublime and subtle intentions to be seen and be beside everyone.

I want to paint when I paint, I want it to be when it flows. To do my art in the form of my inspiration; I want to feel lightness in it, to annul time and see myself returning as if in a trance; I want my shoes to be seen not as ornaments of bedrooms and bathrooms; I want to see them walking outside, along corridors, through the rooms and in all directions, expressing themselves and provoking emotions.

Hélio de Sousa