The common misconception about abstract art is that the absence of meaning through a figure leads to a relatively straightforward—and predictable—artistic process devoid of any complexity. The truth, however, is that abstraction is an advanced form of artistic practice. Abstraction considers a figure or subject, and portrays it as a complex idea. Abstraction, therefore, is visual arts equivalent to poetry.
True abstract art is not a hodgepodge of colors and textures, but an orchestrated mastery of media and composition. National Artist Federico Aguilar Alcuaz and Presidential Medal of Merit Awardee Juvenal Sansó may be better known for their representational works but they’re equally acclaimed for their abstracts.
Their abstracts are presented in Galerie Stephanie’s “Explorations,” which runs until May 21, but with a reception on May 14 at 6 p.m. during which there will be a talk by renowned abstract artist and former University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts dean Nestor Olarte Vinluan, titled “From Figuration to Abstraction.”
Modernist icon Aguilar Alcuaz (1932-2011) has a vast and renowned artistic practice. His abstraction alternated between abstracted figurations, and pure geometric or pattern-induced compositions.
He also experimented with medium. His abstract mosaics, for instance, used rolled-up paper to create linear waves that exhibited a highly regimented outline of texture and form.
The special abstract works in this exhibition include far-more intricate details that utilize the artist’s grasp of high concepts, and even some figurative elements from his surrealistic landscapes and still lifes.
Aguilar Alcuaz studied at UP and Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid, Spain. His works are included in the collection of some 20 museums and major cultural institutions in Spain, England, Germany, Poland and the Philippines.
Alcuaz’s peer in stature and talent is Juvenal Sansó (b. 1929). His roots being Spanish (he was born to Spanish parents in Catalonia), Sansó grew up and came of age in the Philippines, making the artist’s background far more international than most. But when the annals of Philippine art history are written, the chapter on Modernism will inevitably have Sansó as the champion of Philippine Expressionism.
His oeuvre is so vast that it is easy to forget that Sansó has long been familiar with abstraction. While living and studying in France, he was involved in creating textile designs for some of the top fashion houses in Europe-including the House of Balenciaga. These rhythmic patterns were later mirrored in a series of photographic slides he painted (some of which can be viewed at the Museo Sansó in San Juan). These progressed to his larger paintings.
Sansó’s abstracts are prism-like, crystalline compositions that paradoxically exhibit the characteristics of fluidity and water. They are truly unlike anything else yet or since painted, save from the artist’s own hand. Still active, Sansó remains the quintessential Modernist genius.
Galerie Stephanie is at Parc Plaza Bldg., 183 E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenue (C-5), Libis, Quezon City. Call 7091488; e-mail [email protected] gmail.com.