Carnival | Malcolm Infante
Malcolm’s Infante's “Carnival” at Renaissance
by Cid Reyes
On December 15, 2021, young Malcolm Infante will be celebrating his 20th birthday- an auspicious date, for it is also the opening of his first solo exhibition at Renaissance Gallery. Titled “Carnival,” it resonates, appropriately enough, with celebration and revelry, music, dancing, and masquerade. It’s a perfect gift to the Birthday Boy.
Born, raised and educated in Nigeria, Malcolm is actually pure Filipino. And something celebratory too is Malcolm’s first visit to his parents’ home country, the Philippines. He is currently enrolled at the College of Saint Benilde, for his art studies, with a focus on photography. But the passion for painting is in the blood, recalling a childhood often spent on doodling, drawing, and feasting on colors.
Indeed, it was Malcolm’s aunt who had posted on her social media some of the works of her nephew. By some stroke of luck, a Filipino art collector happened on the site and was quite taken by some of Malcolm’s works. Not the least of the fascination, of course, is the discovery of a budding Filipino artist living in Nigeria. Admittedly, Filipinos have not been familiar with this country in West Africa, and neither, needless to say, with African art.
Long story short, Malcolm was introduced to the management of Renaissance Art Gallery, which showed interest in his works, and forthwith, included Malcolm in their roster of exhibiting artists at the recent ManilArt 2021. The gods, too, must have taken a shine to the young Malcolm, and several of his works easily found favor in the eyes of our local collectors.
Of course, African art has been an inescapable influence on the still maturing works of Malcolm. The Filipino audience, more familiar with contemporary American art, instantly point out the influence of the late celebrated artist, the Haitian-American Jean-Michel Basquiat, who embodied the New York art scene in the 1980s. The physicality of Basquiat’s wild brushstrokes is more than a hint of his own African cultural background. The inhabitants of Haiti, a Caribbean country, are mainly African in origin.
In “Carnival”, Malcolm’s canvases are energized by depiction of snarling beasts, their sharply serrated teeth at the ready to gnaw on the gawking audience. Personifying African tribal figures, the images are a collision of animal and human spirit in a riot of bristling, violent lines and devouring appetite. Such precocity on the part of Malcolm Infante augurs well for the artist who, though he considers Nigeria his home country, has found Manila’s dynamic art scene enticing and engaging.
Still, at his young age, a bright future will be in store for Malcom Infante, as an active participant in the Philippine art scene.