Helder Batista (Batista) is a self taught artist who works predominantly in sculptural medium. Born in 1964 in Paris, he now lives and works near Cahors in the South West of France.
Batista’s larger pieces explore themes of nonsense, consumerism, globalization and overconsumption without searching for, or giving, concrete explanations. By toying rather than pontificating, Batista can be playful while also pointing fingers at serious dissonances in society. Batista welcomes discussion, but resists projections of specific programs onto his pieces.
With a critical eye on the world around him, Helder Batista proposes a playful interpretation of a symbol of power, strength and violence: the gun. The weapon is wrapped in the flag of different countries, proof that his art has no boundaries.
His “Guns” series, where he uses the silhouette of a revolver wrapped in a flag and solidified with layers of polyurethane, also has many layers of meaning. When “Second Amendment” and “Made in America” are displayed together they can be read as playful subversions of a symbol of power. To others they are a biting political satire on American Imperialism, or the alarming high rates of gun ownership. Meanwhile, when they are paired with the Soviet Union Flag Guns they become historical and charged with Cold War symbolism and the arms race. However, when wrapped in a checkered flag, his Flag Gun becomes a Starting Gun and any abstruse political symbolism is lost. Batista himself refuses to elaborate on the symbolism of his flags beyond admitting that he is toying with the power of symbols. On this most fundamental level, Batista is visually demonstrating that art has no political borders.
A fortuitous discovery while cycling on a Winter morning, allowed Batista to contemplate the idea of recycling tires, to value them, while highlighting their geometrical beauty, their volume and their panel of colors which were not necessarily visible at first glance.
Batista shows that tires can have another vocation than its original use through photography, screen-printing or painting. Indeed, it is at the same time support and medium. Therefore, it is no longer an object destined to become waste and the source of almost endless polluting any more.
Beyond its being manufactured as a utilitarian object, it has the potential of becoming a work of art as an everyday object.
After numerous thoughts, attempts, and finally realizations, this medium shows itself concretely as a full work of art. Batista assembles tires by sublimating them, thanks to his heterogeneous compositions, mixing various sizes, graphics, diameters and qualities. The balance of power which is generated by the use of this medium is pleasing to him.
Twice a week, he measures the various storage places. He selects and chooses according to numerous criteria (graphics, width, specificity, volume). A committed artist, he takes a strong stance against wasting by actually reinventing wasted material, that usually clutter desolate landscapes and abandoned sites.
The tires, at the same time support and medium, symbolise the idea of waste disappearing, the analytical spirit loses its ground for criticism, allowing a glimpse of another option, sublimation. Batista is intrigued by the complexity and esthetic potential of everyday objects, even those as mundane as tires. Batista decided to assert himself and contradict social wisdom that condemns such objects to “a vocation of waste.” In his exploration of materials, Batista discovered that his ‘found’ objects could function as support, medium and subject, or as self sustained complete works of art. In constant communication with Pop art, most of his pieces are intentionally ambiguous. Batista’s work cuts in multiple directions depending on context and audience.