Exuberant Expressions

  • Start

    18 October 2010
  • End

    03 November 2010
  • Artists

    Jack Salud, Raul Isidro, Raul Lebajo

  • Venue

    Altro Mondo • Arte Contemporanea, 3rd Level Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati City

Exuberant Expressions

Adjani Arumpac

Tracing their influence from the Modernist rebellion of the early 1950s – Prudencio Lamarroza, Justin Nuyda, Raul Isidro and Raul Lebajo paint landscapes of respite. Theirs is a stubborn turn to the undefined, seemingly unsullied by the social and political turnoil brewing in the 1970s when their ventures into the local art scene first made waves. While protesters milled around a dictatorship fast coming undone, these third wave local modernists translated chaos into restrained movement of lines and colors on canvas they dubbed as their landscapes. These landscapes belie their roots of turmoil. Hence, these continuing exuberant expressions, more than four decades after when it all started.

Raul isidro’s abstracts play on layering of contrasts, one stratum of color struggling to rise against a literal dominating achromatic another. The sunset vermillion is contained by a torn blanket of grey in “From My Window”, or the crimson pinned down by aggressive brushes of black paint in “North Light”. These restrained colors against muted black and grey set a mood akin to a quiet recollection by sundown, as opposed to a festive break of dawn given by the blues, yellows, and reds buried and splashed over the black in “Tupada” and the same colors, although somewhat muted and partly covered by a mantle of ash, in “It’s Almost Spring”. But Usidro’s hues, the literal hierarchy of the layering of these colors, and the subsequent struggle of each to surface, are effectively brought to a halt by a thick coat of protective finish. The sheen of the polished surface and the layers — buried bu visible – suggest impending implosions.

Raul Lebajo’s works teem with minutiae that pertain to life. The intricate details that make up his images such as in “Lady birds,” recall microscopic flora and fauna life. That these very same details make up the head of a man in “Guardian No. 4” signifies the artist’s homepage to the small yet infinite and shows a disarming humility in the face of the insistence of the power of nature. Harnessing the ambiguity of the shapes of microscopic life, the artist creates an abstract world seemingly detached from living. But doing thus, he elevates the discourse to a philosophical level as in “Red Box” wherein he outlines in red the core of being – a green foliage creeping on a dried one, holding an amoebic yellow shape. The same amoebic shapes are featured floating in “The Vanishing Green”. Far from simplifying, as is the rule of abstractionism, Lebajo thrives on the complexity if living structures, letting life’s tentacles, veins, roots, and every cell infuse his canvasses with a writhing, living tenacity.

Prudencio Lamarroza’s protective mythological queen is not gone. In these series, what we see are details of her transcience, as was painted by the artist in his original legendary Amburayan Queen series. These geometric motifs are paeans to a spirituality that has realized that it dare not give face to the divine. Instead, he induces transcendence through a mesmerizing rhythm of shapes and colors. This is most felt in “Untitled No.1”, wherein the lighter pixels seemingly dance over the darker ones, their random luster ricocheting all over the canvas. Meanwhile, in “Untitled No. 4”, “Untitled No. 5”, and “Untitled No. 6,” the overall darker hues present a more subdued cadence. In “Untitled No. 2” and “Untitled No. 3”, he decides to move the colors in a flux and capture these frozen color fluxes in abstract shapes. The aggressive play of colors, their fixity and yet the movement in their rhythm, subject one to a different kind of ecstasy.

Several threads of similarity run through the works of these three such as a general longing for a return to nature and its representation through abstraction. But it is most interesting to note that all chose to work on acryclic. The paradox of contemplative musings and of using a medium that connotes a faster working process puts forward a hidden restlessness akin to the times wherein these artists first ventured into the scene. This agitation is aptly in line in their chosen mode of modernist expression, choosing to clash, layer, and contrast colors to stimulate unlikely associations.

Seemingly unlike the rest, Justin Nuyda’s oil landscapes, present a gentler interaction of shades. The sensual undulations of tone gradations, manifesting as coarse textiles billowing in a limbo of equally gradating colors, soothe the eyes. Nevertheless, the intensity of the hues go against the general meditative mood/movement on canvas. The hypnotic gradual changes between bright pink and white, cherry and lavender, jade to ash and to crimson – invite the gaze to wander along the terrains of this artist’s mind that alternately elicit reflection and adrenaline rush in each and every fold and hue. Interestingly, he adds a piece quite different from the others. By incorporating a layer of dripping paint in between the gradations, the artist himself breaks into his ruminations.

This is where all four converge – there is no respite, even in the comfort of mindscapes. The pensive works belie an innate movement, perceived by the keen observant. These offer not response byt the silent vigor of the steady and enduring.