Agustin Goy’s ballet paintings, which were shown during ManilArt 2014, herald the marriage of two art disciplines; his brushstrokes echo the stringent demands of classical ballet.
Painting ballerinas and the occasional danseur, Goy seems to execute his own pas de deux with Terpsichore as partner; the dance of his hands is testament to his classicist rearing from childhood to design school.
Goy derives pleasure from the woman’s figure, particularly her grace and fluidity as underscored by the movements in classical dance. This attention to figuration perhaps also points to the architect in Goy, since the ballerina’s embodiment of strength, perfect form, and aesthetic projection may fulfill the Vitruvian requirements of “firmatis, utilitas, venustatis (durability, utility, beauty)” in classical architecture canon.
Beauty from form and strength seems the logic behind Goy’s insistence on depicting many a balletomane’s delight. Driven as well by classical music that accompanies ballet, the painter executes ballet dancers in their full-performance regalia, conveying the sense of ceremony integral to high art.
From the dance artists’ gleaming satin pointe shoes, to the stiff shirred tulle tutu, softly flowing chiffon skirts, fitted bodices, and the impeccable bun-topped coifs often accented by sparkling tiaras, the costumes that ballet dancers wear serve as messengers of Goy’s expertise.
Rendering the various layers or pieces of the dancer’s garb entails deft handling of the paintbrush. Achieving the same gradient of opacity and translucence, whether using oil paint, pastel, or a water-based medium, is proof of his prowess—for while oil can be quite reticent when it comes to transparency, watercolor may be loathed to endow opaqueness.
The play of light in differing levels of translucency is heightened by the soft-focus treatment applied deftly by the artist, very evident in “Au Repose” and “A Terre.”
Light and brilliance
The adroit conveyance of light further comes into play not only with the brilliant gradations of brightness from shiny costumery and the darkening of the ground against the figures, but more so when the dancer’s tensile power must be shown despite the diaphanous dress that partially obscures the view of her limb on pointe as in “En L’aire” and the legs in “Les Ailes.”
Inner garments are seen beneath the shadowing of skirting fabric, and a hand bent inwards, toward the body at a prescribed angle, is visible, too, through the tutu fronds in “Allegro.” Notably exquisite hands are present in Goy’s ballet ouvre and it is out of faithfulness to his chosen muse that he strives to impress upon viewers their extreme positioning.
“Allegro” shows again the architectural training of Goy, and the life drawing lessons he learned from no less than Vicente Manansala: The dancer maintains precise posture and balance with a line she must imagine running from the middle of the top of her head, through her ramrod-straight back and down to the tip of her pointe ballet shoe.
This certainly is fine-figure rendition. A plumb-bob may actually be hung against the piece and it would run from the top of the painting, to the subject’s neck, through the length of her spine, to the spot on which she tiptoes. The resulting plumbline demarcates the work into two absolutely straight vertical rectangles while it goes right through the center of gravity and proves the correct alignment of the vertebrae and the one supporting leg.
Agustin Goy’s strokes seem to mimic the complex motions of the ballerina moving with a soft grace that belies hard strength; leaping on air and landing weightless, propelled by agility and pliant elegance but capable of power. Goy’s strokes are a mimesis of ballet. His art is dance itself in line, form and color.
To view Agustin Goy’s works, visit Gallery Nine at the 4/F, SM Megamall; tel. 9108016 or 0922-8223369.