“I always challenge myself to capture that fleeting moment, something quick, short-lived yet ephemeral,” remarked Rosscapili (the artist’s professional name) in one interview.
While it is true that an artist does consciously explore possible subjects for their art, it is a more intriguing thought to consider that it is the subject that chooses its artist or ideal interpreter.
How else could Rosscapili have lit upon the idea of capturing the image of butterflies in his recent works? Living in a fleeting moment of a week or two, which is the life span of most butterfly species, they come into view, in a sunny garden sucking the nectar off the blooming flowers, then vanish, these ephemeral creatures, never to be seen again.
In the current show organized by Galerie Joaquin at ArtistSpace in Ayala Museum, Rosscapili’s “Painted Symphony,” an apparition of a multitude of butterflies flutters about like musical notes unstrung from the stave, thus conflating the beauty of nature with the healing power of music. Quips the artist, “When I listen to music, nature comes to mind and a painting blooms in my studio. Catching a symphony from a figment of my imagination.”
The butterfly effect
Whence the origin of Rosscapili’s fascination with butterflies? Certainly not in our few disappearing city parks, where gray concrete has replaced the green grass, but in his travels around the Asian countries, undertaken on art-related activities. There he had observed what seem to have been fast disappearing from our cityscape: the sight of colorful butterflies that suddenly ushered in a sense of delight and wonderment.
As for Rosscapili, he was determined not just to wing it, so to speak, but to bring to bear on the subject not the traditional tools of the trade, with such materials as resin to create the sculptural butterflies, thick plexible glass with LED light, and laser technology.
Far from being the frail and delicate creatures, they now assert their presence with the solidity of three-dimensional realities, a visual declaration away from Rosscapili’s trademark subtleties and nuances of flowing and fluid acrylics that flood his abstractions.
Twinned with flowers, butterflies have become mankind’s favored metaphor for a rich range of symbolism, which obtains in both Eastern and Western culture. It represents transition and transitoriness, freedom and liberation, fun and joyousness, souls of the dead and a premonition of death, of farewells and letting go.
As pop merchandise, butterflies are ubiquitous in wallpapers, fabric design, coffee mugs and placemats and Valentine cards.
But while much cynicism has attended the commercialization of the image of the butterfly, Rosscapili insists that what you do with your subject is what matters, and he chooses the higher ground, responding to the allure of butterflies as essential spiritual symbols, an extension of his own search for other dimensions of his art, which, though perpetually earthbound, seeks release into unreachable emotional regions.
With some help from his butterflies, Rosscapili might just get there, for after all, as science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein once said, “Butterflies are self-propelled flowers.”—CONTRIBUTED
ArtistSpace is at Ayala Museum, Makati City. Call Galerie Joaquin at 7239418.