Graffiti artist Belin’s exhibit stops first in Baton Rouge

Miguel Angel Belinchon Bujes began his career as a graffiti artist, but soon developed his own style: a mix of realism, caricature and surrealism. Today, his work can be found in exhibits throughout the world, including the Manship Gallery in the Shaw Center for the Arts.

Like many graffiti artists, he works under a single name, Belin, and that’s the tag on the new exhibit, “Belin: Off the Wall.”

“It’s amazing what he’s able to do with spray paint,” says Rodneyna Hart. “All of the lines and edges are so clean.”

Hart is the guest curator for this show, as well as resident curator for the Healthcare Gallery on Brentwood Drive, where part of Belin’s collection was exhibited on a smaller scale.

“The Healthcare Gallery is more intimate, so it’s about walking up to the work and looking at the details,” Hart says. “But the Manship Gallery is more about stepping back and looking at the work as a whole. This space is perfect for this exhibit.”

The Manship Gallery is the first stop for “Belin: Off the Wall,” launched as a traveling exhibit by the Museum of Public Art in Baton Rouge. Belin traveled from his home in Spain to Baton Rouge in 2011 to paint murals alongside fellow graffiti artists inside the museum on the corner of Myrtle and Eddie Robinson streets in the Old South Baton Rouge Community.

Museum board members Kevin Harris and Leon Elliott teamed up to put Belin’s work on the road.

“Leon Elliott is a local doctor,” Hart says. “He owns the Healthcare Gallery. Kevin Harris is a local dentist. A lot of the pieces in this show actually showed first in Las Vegas, but the Museum of Public Art is in charge of them now.”

And while the museum seeks future venues, the spotlight now is on the Manship Gallery, which greets visitors with a wall-sized Belin mural.

From there, get ready for a journey through Belin’s world of brightly colored portraits, where each character is a superhero. They eyes of “Super Neffi” peer through a green mask reminiscent of Batman’s Robin. Yet “Super Flaxtl’s” mask matches the clown-like grease makeup on her cheeks.

Two portraits of this young woman appear in this show, their presentation so vivid that she seems almost three dimensional.

Belin began his career as a graffiti artist in his hometown of Linares, Spain. Some people probably thought him a vandal, but Belin considered his work — and that of other graffiti artists — as beautiful art for the public.

“With masterful dexterity, Belin traverses medium and theme, from painting and sculpture to clothing,” Hart says. “One constant is his superhero theme. In the words of Belin, ‘We all have the capacity for greatness, somewhere inside of all of us lies a super hero.”

And these super heroes come to life in sharp-edged portraits through an artist’s spray paint.