Art Heals | Art Wednesday Group
Art Wednesday at Renaissance
by Cid Reyes
Needing a healing is the wounded world we have now, and the Art Wednesday Group responds with a show aptly titled “Art Heals” now on view at Renaissance Art Gallery. Appropriate too is the venue of the exhibition, a French word which means rebirth.
Art Wednesday – which had its beginnings in August 2007 as “Kulay Marikina” - is a Filipino group of professional visual artists seeking to capture Filipino culture. The group’s artworks are mostly composed of Philippine landscapes, women garbed in Filipiniana attire while engaged in traditional chores, floral still lifes, verdant tropical gardens, and portraiture.
Art Wednesday, which counts 20 active regular members, is distinguished by the participation of its Honorary members namely Remy Boquiren, Lydia Velasco, Bing Siochi, and Fernando Sena.
Current officers of Art Wednesday are: Melissa Villaseñor, president; Andy F. Pernia, vice president; Yolanda D. Batara, secretary; Marilyn Villanueva Aquino, treasurer; Esther Garcia, auditor; and Naomi Banal-Huertas, press relations officer.
ART WEDNESDAY ARTISTS
A hidden glow and light emanate from within the womanly figures of Remy Boquiren. As the internal radiance of the Filipina spirit, it manifests in the tropical beauty of the delineated figure. Boquiren has an exquisite hand when it comes to draftsmanship, a skill no doubt hewn from decades of artmaking. Pastel is her favored medium, which without the physicality of oil, lends itself ideally to her ethereal women.
More than any Filipino artist regardless of gender, Lydia Velasco radically transformed the conventional and traditional image of the Filipina. Velasco has created a species of Filipina comfortable with her spirituality and sensuality, two attributes heretofore perceived as conflicting and unacceptable. Velasco’s women were conceived expressionistically, verging on stylization, with their massive limbs, extremities, and bodies.
Plein-air painting – or painting outdoors – is what Bing Siochi has become synonymous with. Adventurous in his excursions into the countryside, Siochi has mastered the art of on-the-spot painting. More impressively, Siochi is also a superlative figurative painter and portraitist. In his series on dance, the artist catches the motion and energy of the dancers through their expressive and flamboyant gestures and costumes.
The very name of Maestro Fernando Sena instantaneously brings images and memories of our native pan de sal (derived from bread of salt), but so wide ranging is the master’s diversity of images that they encompass landscapes, still lifes, floral bouquets, barong-barong, religious icons, discarded toys, and portraiture. An inspiring figure in the art scene for his indefatigable conducting of workshops, Fernando Sena has trained, under his tutelage, some of the country’s now notable artists.
Intermixing the devise of gridwork and the format of a still life, Isagani Fuentes stimulates reminiscences of Giorgio Morandi’s bottles and vessels that have been parted from each other’s stifling proximity. Instead, the artist arranges his three white Oriental porcelain vessels on a shelf against a starkly black background, hovering above a large, celadon-green jar. With its almost mathematical proportion, Fuentes’s still life exudes streamlined order and disciplined execution.
An award-winning artist in the Realist vein, Mario Panis crossovers into the realm of abstraction. This is a gesture which will surely surprise many of his admirers and collectors, so accustomed are they are to the breathtaking realism of his portraits, nudes, and still lifes. In these poles-apart ventures into abstraction, Panis shifts into the light-enticing device of layering colors. In these works, Panis exhibits a bravura skill in the harnessing of transparencies of light.
Clowns and harlequins have become the trademark subjects of Daisy Carlos, characters from the circus whose lives are centered on the entertainment of an audience. Whilst the figures are cloaked in the liveliest colors, an underlying sadness permeates their being.
Wispy, paper-thin bougainvilleas welcome the summer and visitors in the canvases of Lisa Villaseñor. Massed clusters and voluminous petals (actually called bracts) in exquisite shades of delicate purples, pinks, and whites, are rendered transparent and translucent by the light that shines through them. A deeply spiritual person, Villaseñor often titles her works after Biblical verses and psalms. By offering her talent to bring praise to the Almighty, the more Villaseñor enriches the painting experience.
Stillness and solitude predominate in the seascapes of Jun Rocha, often caught in encroaching darkness as the moon ascends the skies. Brooding rocks and abandoned boats on a deserted shore leave a languorous impression on the viewer, as if they themselves were human presences.
Yellow is the color of happiness, optimism, joy and delight – the very hue of sunshine and life. (Think Van Gogh’s sunflowers!) Vibrant yellow seduces and dazzles Esther Garcia’s spontaneous chromatic sense and finds repose and contentment in her brushstrokes. The vivid yellows in her bell flowers, lotus ponds or a lady’s garden send vibrations of warm and cheerful greetings to the viewer. The intimate synonymity between the color yellow and artist Esther Garcia is itself an impetus for the creation of artworks where optimism and positive energy seem to reside.
ANDY F. PERNIA
A dazzle of spontaneous energetic brushstrokes, a once perceptible subject now evanescing into pure energy, dense conglomeration of pigments opening up to light-filled vistas of oceans and skies, horizons and distances – all these are the distinguishing characteristics of the art of Andy F. Pernia. The works purposely have been left untitled - the better for the viewer to participate actively in the artist’s vision and revel in the freedom to seek his own personal interpretation.
More impressive is the artist whose talents can equally traverse different mediums, completely at ease in both painting and sculpture. One such artist is Chie Cruz, whose floral marks are intense closeups of petals with their quietly unfolding drama. It comes across as a collaboration between botany and enigma, all this by inadvertence. This artist’s floral works eschew the sweetness and daintiness one associates with floral painting, adhering instead to qualities more akin to sturdy and stable construction and design.
Drawn to images of watery vistas and open skies, Clarisa Navida’s works are tinged with nostalgia for seascapes and riverscapes that she has once visited or viewed, which she now enhances back into memory through the medium of painting. While these views may be traditional and conservative, Navida nourishes them with her own personal vigor.
Hardedge geometric shapes jostle their way into a harmonious, cohesive whole that harkens back to the jazzy Neo-Plastic art of the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, climaxing in his gyrating “Broadway Boogie” work. The various parts coalesce together, as if by logic, in this cleanly executed composition.
JOSEPH S. CLAVITA
A swiftly soaring swordfish leaps out of the still waters like an unexpected exclamation point against the open skies, startling the birds and the “Queen of Sea Treasures.” Joseph S. Clavita voyages into marine narratives, raising up a submerged underwater world. A verdant paradisiacal island floats in the middle of the sea, a perfect setting for escapade into the oceanic universe.
ANDY ABU URAG
A floral efflorescence of Andy Ubu Urag hints at the artist’s relationship with nature, which he regards as a wellspring of colors and forms. They are not burdened by an over-reliance to details which, in his estimation, only distracts from, and diminishes, the emotion and impression which he originally perceived. Even his handling of colors is not mired in self-indulgence, preferring instead a wispy and evanescent quality.
Abstraction emerges from the brushstrokes of Naomi Banal, lyrical and floating passages of gentle and tenderest colors that inevitably allude to nature, in particular, floral blooms that exude a dream-like atmosphere. Banal responds to abstraction as a spiritual language capable of expressing emotion with no need for visible reality.
Domestic themes such as Mother and Child and the Filipino Family appeal intuitively to many Filipino artists, such is our racial culture determined by intense family ties and close relationships. Stylization is Pit Monton’s avenue for capturing and depicting what are often images that have been limned interminably throughout our history. With his own individual style, Monton can call the shots on any theme that captures his artistic attention.
From colonial Calle Crisologo in Vigan Ilocos Sur to distant Mt. Fuji in Japan, Yolanda Batara is swept off her comfort zone into artistic destinations. While the prevalent cell phone camera has roamed the world recording visual bytes, painting as traditional art form remains imperturbable, unflinchingly determined to harness an artist’s vivid imagination. Batara recognizes the fathomless mystery of painting which no instant camera of the latest technology can unravel.