Justin Nuyda is an enigma.
One of the original members of the Saturday Group, he has stopped going there altogether. Famous for his abstracts, he has become reclusive lately and chosen to devote himself to collecting butterflies.
Today Nuyda is considered a top lepidopterist. He has named countless butterfly species. More than that, he has discovered several new species and subspecies. For his regular income, he also became part owner of The Hobbit House, the very popular pub, with Jim Turner.
A graduate of the UST Fine Arts program (1966), Nuyda was one of the first batch of Thirteen Artists awardees, a distinguished list of Who’S Who on the art scene that included Danilo Dalena, Angelito Antonio, Mario Parial and Romulo Olazo.
He did his first one-man show at La Solidaridad Gallery in Malate. It wasn’t all abstract art then. Nuyda has proven time and again that he can paint figures, portraits, nudes.
He once had a fundraiser with Araceli Dans and the Guhit Group to help Pacita Abad raise funds for projects in Batanes. For the show, he exhibited actual paintings he had done of the islands.
It is with great anticipation that the art public is welcoming his new show for the Masters of Modernism series: “Justin Nuyda (Mindscapes),” which opens July 24, 7 p.m., at Galerie Joaquin.
A cerebral artist, Nuyda’s concern is to explore and challenge the boundaries of the mind. He uses visual techniques and definitions to explore these boundaries and present his own vision of the landscapes of his mind.
Many are hard-pressed to describe exactly what school or what ism Nuyda’s art falls into. Some are quick to say “Surrealism” but a more incisive look reveals that it is not. Others say it is abstract art although, interestingly, it has a strong figurative base.
Yes, it is a form of abstraction, but in a precise, almost mathematical manner, Nuyda presents in strong colors suggestions of the wonderment of nature. Oftentimes the wilderness, the sky, a lake, the sea, the undulation of hills, mountains and valleys find themselves in the timeless rendition that is Nuyda’s world.
The butterfly collecting helps immensely. For instead of green, he presents emerald. Azure instead of blue, alizarin crimson for a shade of red, and silver for white.
The luminosity of the butterfly mixed with the landscapes in Nuyda’s mind has presented an interesting vision that has become an art collector’s much-anticipated canvas.
Nuyda has had a stellar four and a half decades in visual art. He is undeniably one of the pillars of Philippine Modern Art. He was a contemporary of pioneering masters and National Artists. He was cofounder and one of the earliest members of the Saturday Group of Artists.
Nuyda’s “Mindscapes” aren’t that easy to find. Except for a group show once in a while at galleries such as Galleria Duemilla or Altro Mondo, his last one-man show was in Hans Brumann Gallery at Greenbelt 5 some five years ago.
His list of collectors include Jaime Zobel, Fred Elizalde, Connie Yuchengco, Willliam Sy, David Sycip, as well as William Gabaldon of the Philippine Stock Exchange; David Unsu-Chua from the insurance sector; David Lim, Tiking Lopez; Ramon Esguerra, governor of the Integrated Bar of Southern Luzon; and Victor Dans, one of the country’s foremost bonsai enthusiasts.
Nuyda himself admits he paints very slowly. There are times when it takes a month to finish a painting, or even periods when he does not paint.
Nuyda’s “Mindscapes” has been several years in the planning, with Nuyda starting to work on the canvases for this show over 18 months ago. Twelve works on canvas and eight works on paper are the focus of this presentation.
A portion of the gallery has been allocated to present a mini-retrospective of earlier outstanding works of the artist, as well as some facets of his butterfly collection so that viewers can see the relationship between the artist, his art and his concerns.
Galerie Joaquin is at 371 P. Guevarra St. and Montessori Lane, Addition Hills, San Juan; tel. 7239418, 7239253 or 0917-582-2115; e-mail www.galeriejoaquin.com.