"Amarelão" mural challenges passersby in front of Portimão City Hall

Some stop and stare. Others pass and look aside, quickly, without slowing down. There are still the […]

Some stop and stare. Others pass and look aside, quickly, without slowing down. There are also those who engage in conversation with the artist or with other people who are watching. Or who poses for selfies and photographs with the wall as a background. Okay, okay, no one is indifferent.

And all this happens because of the mural that the artist Mario Bethlehem is painting on a side wall, previously bare, of a house in Praça 1º de Maio, in front of Portimão City Hall, in the context of Março Jovem.

In addition to the strong colors, where yellow dominates ("yellow!", as a woman who passed by there commented), what is most striking is the phrase that the artist chose to paint at the top of the mural: «Be careful with everything ».

Why this sentence?, I wanted to know the Sul Informação. «Last year, I started to develop works that start from a pun: “Murals and good customs”. I have already painted murals in this series in Viseu, in Lisbon, in Loures, now in Portimão», began by explaining Mário Belém.

The idea was “to play with the formats and aesthetics of old advertising and subvert the thing a bit”. The artist asks: "what if the advertising was brutally sincere?".

And what is it, then, do I need to be careful? What is this «everything»? «You have to be careful with everything, really: and that's why I'm going to paint a television, a chicken, a can of Coke, medicines… who knows if I won't paint a newspaper», he warns, half laughing. These are the things that intoxicate us today, the body and mind. Therefore, it is necessary to be careful with them.

But there it will be, prepared to put an end to these dangers, the old lady with the fly swatter in hand. Looking at the mural that Mário Belém will finish today or tomorrow, one almost expects to see the fly swatter crushing one of those evils of current life.


Foreign tourists pose for a photograph with the mural painting as a background

O young artist Mário Belém, who is one of the most important values ​​of the Street Art in Portugal, was invited by LAC – Laboratory of Creative Activities, to make this intervention on that wall in Portimão, during the Young March. In fact, the inauguration of the mural that leaves no one indifferent is even one of the last activities of this month entirely dedicated to the youth of Portimo.

Mário Belém is pleased with the reaction of people, both from the neighbors on his mural, and from those who pass by on the street. “In the early days, you still couldn't see much and no one spoke. On the third day, the thing started to take shape and people started to question me a lot», says the artist, whose work was on Monday.

The mural draws attention for its color, for its aesthetics, for the whole, for the slogan, for what it shows and what it suggests. Much is open to the interpretation of each passerby. But street art and yet.

Anyway, Mário Belém says: “I've been painting this for five days, but the people who live here and pass here have to live with it forever. So I try not to do anything offensive. I'm even known for tending to do cute things [laughs]». In any case, he warns, despite the wall having been fixed before receiving his artistic intervention, "it is crumbling, it will last for a short time".

A street art, street or urban art, is just that: «ephemeral art». But while it lasts, Portimão has one more attraction to know.


Who is Mario Belém?

After working as a digital illustrator and graphic designer for several years, Mario Bethlehem he decided to get his hands dirty with ink again and concentrate on his artistic work, shaping a magical world that makes recurrent use of Portuguese popular culture and wisdom.

His murals were very well received in the growing Portuguese urban art scene and his colorful and playful style gives form to a refined visual narrative, full of details and deeply imbued with traditional stories and proverbs.


Photos: Elisabete Rodrigues|Sul Informação