Two artists return to the aesthetic ideals of the past
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 04:00 AM November 28, 2016
Artist Carlo Magno has been prolific in experimenting with abstraction in painting and sculpture. Eschewing geometrics, he has explored an organic form of abstraction focusing on texture and spontaneity. This is a continuation of his earlier direction as a realist painter of architectural forms: old buildings, courtyards, details of houses, churches and patios.
Magno’s latest exhibit at Galerie Joaquin, “Unlocking the Red Door,” which opens Nov. 29, will surprise admirers with his return to full figuration, though with abstract characteristics.
The exhibit features landscapes and built environments similar to his earlier works. Instead of focusing on realistic detail, however, more attention is given to strokes, texture, form—in keeping with the approach of abstraction—and a thorough understanding of his medium (acrylic on canvas).
Magno refers to his latest works as a way for him to go back to basics. The red door in the title is symbolic of this portal and a peek into the artist’s present state of mind.
The Cordillera is depicted in “On Higher Ground” as a deep spiritual experience, in part because of his use of expressionist strokes. “Pathway” is a riot of colors while recognizing the dignity of the architecturally precise building in the distance.
Magno started as an architecture undergraduate at Mapua Institute of Technology. In 1976, he shifted Fine Arts at Philippine Women’s University under the auspices of its then-director Raul Isidro.
At that time, the abstraction of Arturo Luz and H.R. Ocampo dominated the aesthetics of the art community. This was the environment that informed baby-boomer artists like Magno.
Mastery of contrast
Opening simultaneously at Galerie Joaquin’s Main Gallery is “Kontrast,” the latest watercolor pieces by Ephraim Samson.
In discussing the qualities of great artists, National Artist Cesar Legaspi once explained the importance of contrast and tonal values in an artist’s practice. Learning when to aggressively gradate hues or when to hold back was, to him, the hallmark of a great artist. In this context, Samson has achieved the pinnacle of his career.
Samson was one of the most active members of the Saturday Group of the ’70s and ’80s.
Samson’s mastery of composition, tone and contrast is on display in his latest exhibit, which features landscapes and still lifes. This reflects his training at the fine arts program of University of Santo Tomas, and the influence of National Artist Vicente Manansala, who mentored him.
Samson is one of Philippine Modernism’s most recognized figures, and his latest exhibit is both a throwback to the ideals and values of an important part of Philippine art history, as well as a statement on how artistic practices continue to develop and evolve.
“Unlocking the Red Door” and “Kontrast” open on Nov. 29, 6:30 p.m., and will run until Dec. 11.
Galerie Joaquin is at 371 P. Guevarra St. cor. Montessori Lane, Addition Hills, San