The art of our time is noisy with appeals for silence. How gratifying therefore that in our cacophonous midst there are still artists who recognize the imperative of silence, from whose works we are able to seek and find solace—select artists such as Fernando Zobel, Lao Lianben, Gus Albor and Florencio Concepcion, now getting his just measure of appreciation. It was Conception who harnessed the chromatic pulsations of the warmest colors and synchronized them with their spatial surroundings, transcendent in the engulfing darkness.
This much, too, we learned from previewing the latest works of Rico Lascano in his show titled “Quietude,” at Altro Mondo Creative Space. To be sure, this artist has, for close to over two decades now, been exploring what he calls “calm spaces”—the relationship between space and surface, sight and silence, distilling sensations of serenity. One still recalls Lascano’s early works that evoked bodies of water—ponds, streams, rivers, seas”—where the point of departure was the most famous haiku by the Japanese poet Basho: “An old pond/ A frog jumps in/ The sound of water.” No doubt this was the influence of Lascano’s wife, Chachu, who herself writes exquisite haikus.
In these recent works, once again Lascano dips his brush as it were in the pond of Basho, sharing an aesthetic experience which one is tempted to label “The Lascano Effect”—obviously a stark allusion to the well-known Mozart Effect. The phrase describes the ability of the Austrian composer’s music to control high blood pressure, reducing tension, and hastening the healing process.
The atmospheric paintings of Lascano, we can claim, may be said to elicit the same result and reaction on the part of his audience. Regard Lascano’s works then as stress-busters.
‘Art of balance, purity’One collector has remarked that after a day’s harried work, he comes home to a large Lascano work, relieving him of physical stress and corporate distress. This is precisely what was meant by the French master Matisse when he said: “What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter, an art which could be for every mental worker, for the businessman as well as the man of letters, for example, a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.”
Suffice it to say that Lascano proceeded by opening up his forms until they reach a state of formlessness, starting with his “Serenity Suite” works. These are his familiar cluster-forms, diminishing like subdividing islands, or floating petals, gently sailing away, from a state of flux and movement thence, as if the artist had pushed his paintings into the deep end, onto stasis and utter stillness and calm.
In fact, in two works (“Solitude” 1 and 2), Lascano was in his most abstemious, abstinent, temperate, such that the works look unfinished, uninviting, stripped of corporeality, wilfully absent. The works are like gigantesque watercolors, recalling the color field paintings of such American painters as Paul Jenkins, Morris Louis and Helen Frankenthaler, except that Lascano’s layered veils of acrylics are more cryptic, mystic and dreamy.
In some works, one gets the feeling that his art is undergoing an act of self-effacement, as in “Evanescence” 1 and 2—or,as in the largest works, “Expanse”—the diptych measuring over twelve feet long. The end result, however, can be hypnotic in a calming way, inspiring the viewer to embrace, if not enter into, the physical space of the canvas. We could liken ourselves to that ancient Chinese painter who, after finishing his beautiful landscape, disappears from sight, only to emerge as a figure in his own painting, on the path toward the mountains. Who was it that said: “Everybody should be quiet near a little stream and listen”? We can all gaze at Rico Lascano’s “Quietude,” and just listen.—CONTRIBUTED INQ
Altro Mondo Creative Space is at 1159 Chino Roces Ave., Barangay San Antonio, Makati City; tel. 75013270.