When Canadian intellectual Marshall McLuhan coined the classic statement “The medium is the message,” he meant the message of a medium, or an innovation, wasn’t about the obvious content. Rather, it was about the change in people’s perception brought about by the medium.
This is the aim of artists Monica Delgado and Michelle Perez, whose works emphasize the qualities of paint rather than represent a subject.
“We use paint but we don’t paint,” Delgado declares.
In the exhibit “Painting in Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing)” at Finale Art File, these artists work on the premise that fine art is at risk of losing its significance in the age of multimedia arts and HD photography.
Hence, the duo aims to reclaim painting’s rightful place in the visual arts by pushing the boundaries of their medium. Their works urge the viewers to look beyond what’s apparent and appreciate the effects that have been enhanced by their medium.
Turn off the mind
Perez and Delgado started out with classical training before they pivoted to abstraction. They eschewed the conventional —the paintbrush, oil and watercolor.
Their works reveal their fascination for acrylic. It is hard, flexible, dries faster between layers, and bonds easily to any surface. Their creations highlight bright colors, organic forms and texture.
Moreover, hardened leftover acrylic can be repurposed into three-dimensional works.
Perez studied the enamel-on-copper painting, an ancient decorative art, under artist Angela Crespo de Pereira in Madrid, Spain. She also took up courses in drawing, mixed media and impressionist painting.
Perez’s forte was portraits before she turned to abstract art in which she found freedom in creative expression.
She quotes American abstractionist Ellsworth Kelly: “If you can turn off the mind and look only with the eyes, everything becomes abstract.”
Like Kelly, Perez lets go of preconceived ideas about art and controlling the medium. Instead, she allows things to happen and makes some alterations.
Describing her process which uses house paint, she explains: “I squirt, pour, layer, let the paint flow and dry, and repeat the procedure. It’s a story on how the paint behaves. My other process is to glue excess paint drops.”
Perez’s works are evocative of the style of Kelly, whose early creations were characterized by large-scale, geometric relief paintings and monochromatic and shaped canvases, layered with the same color.
A Fine Arts graduate of University of the Philippines, Delgado started out with representational art before she “painted paint.” Her thesis, squeezing painting over doors, aimed to confront people’s perception of art.
“It created ambiguity,” she recalls. “Do you look at the paint or the door?”
It was a precursor of her present style. For this exhibit, Delgado debunks the conventional canvas by using the skeletal frame—used to stretch the canvas—and wraps them with dried, elastic acrylic strips.
“You don’t normally look at the back of the painting,” she says. “These paint strips are around the canvas frame instead of painted on the canvas.”
Perez’s and Delgado’s processes produce a flawless synthesis of unusual shapes, strong and balanced compositions, and saturated colors that communicate their passion for their medium.
“Paint has been used to create an illusion of a representation on canvas—landscape, still life or portrait,” Delgado says. “Here, you are looking at paint as the end-all. That’s the purpose of the show.” —CONTRIBUTED
“Painting in Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing)” runs until July 29 at Finale Art File, La Fuerza Compound, 2241 Chino Roces Ave., Makati City. Call 8132310.