Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Raul Isidro's Impressions and Memories

June 13, 2011, 9:59am


MANILA, Philippines -- Swathes and washes of red, black, blue, and yellow mark the new suite of abstract paintings of veteran artist Raul Isidro. His works, also characterized by ephemeral impressions and wide breathing spaces rendered in his signature brushwork and wet-on-wet technique, promise to transport audiences into this dreamlike and Zen-like realm where the physical and the metaphysical meet in the wild and subdued palettes and forms the painter has used.

Titled ‘Andorra,’ Isidro’s latest foray into abstraction is a result of his recent sojourn in Andorra, Europe, where he, fellow Filipino painter Al Perez, and other artists from the world over were invited to attenda a two-week art camp sponsored by UNESCO.

A small landlocked country in southwestern Europe, Andorra is bordered by Spain and France. Known for its picturesque landscape and rugged, mountainous topography, Andorra’s natural marvels are the sole inspiration of Isidro’s exhibit of 17 pieces. In this show, Isidro masterfully reworks the physicality of Andorra and transforms it into a sort of “meditative boundlessness”—a world of his own.

According to Isidro, his canvases are his impressions and memories of the place. They are the end-product of the artist’s exposure to the varied sights and sounds he had encountered during his trip. A challenge to his strength and endurance, he says, his trip was, as traversing the steep topography of the land proved to be laborious.

Fortunately, for us, the journey is not of the corporeal one. Isidro’s viewers now are only left with beautiful and relaxing imagery and wistful versions of the rocky landscape and energized views the 68-year-old painter has conquered.

But while Isidro’s works are abstract, audiences won’t have a mind-boggling time deciphering the painter’s works. For example, the small pieces in the exhibit are apparent takes of the painter on water running through slabs of rock. One large piece in red is Isidro’s impression of a gypsy dressed in red, gyrating and performing in a sea of people; while the abstraction in black is the painter’s reminiscence of a mountain he has enjoyed looking at.

In Andorra, the artist has successfully re-framed the wonders of his travels in a visual feast meant to scintillate onlookers. Also, in the artist’s pictorial configuration, the visual experience is an act of transference. It is an exhibit that “takes us into the depthless versions of the beauty of the real environments that compelled the creation of the [artist’s] aesthetic encounters.”

But more than this transference of sorts is also the sheer ability of Isidro to allow his viewers to conjure impressions of their own and to fashion travels based on their experiences and memories. It is in this light that the painter and his audiences commune and meet, thus forging an exchange of truths and recollections espoused by the paintings themselves.

A graduate of Fine Arts at the University of Santo Tomas, Isidro claims Francisco Goya and Wilhelm de Kooning as his influences. He started teaching at the Philippine Women’s University in 1968 and became head of the Fine Arts department in 1977, and was awarded the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) for Fine Arts in 1979. He recently had his 40-year retrospective at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

‘Andorra’ will be on view until June 21 in Galerie Anna, The Artwalk, 4/F SM Megamall A, Mandaluyong City. For more details, call 470-2511; visit www.galerieanna.com; e-mail galerieanna@yahoo.com.


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