Di Legno Gallery presents Renaissance Revisit on 17 January, 2017
The Renaissance remains to be one of the most notable epochs in history. Considered the Golden Era for the arts, its unsurpassed achievements in painting, sculpture and architecture continue to amaze and inspire us, providing impetus for continuous re-engagement. The names Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Raphael, Donatello and Brunelleschi may be the most famous of the lot, but Dutch Masters also accomplished considerable advancement in oil painting techniques at that time, giving us glowing, ephemeral works with painstakingly layered glazes.
In Renaissance Revisit, six Filipino artists are presented by Di Legno Gallery as their recent works offer new insights into works by the Old Masters.
The Alarcon Brothers – Luke, Ejem, Aldrine and Didier – known collectively as LEAD, provide various interpretations of the Mona Lisa using their distinct contemporary styles. Playing with one of the most famous representations of the Renaissance provides them with opportunity to further demystify one of the most renowned paintings in the world as portrayed so skillfully by Da Vinci.
Luke, only 14 years old, is one of the finalists for the Da Vinci Initiative organized by the Art Renewal Center. He is also the Grand Prize Winner of the 2014 University of the East Annual Painting Competition and Finalist of the 2012 Cocolife Painting Competition. With his work, Chemical Reaction, he portrays Mona Lisa in a classical way, yet provides contemporary visual intervention and pop culture references as a means to communicate the intrusion of today's technology and changing ideals of society and culture to standards of beauty and morality.
With his painting titled Enigmatic Romance, Ejem Alarcon, firstborn of the brothers, Grand Prize Winner of the Art Petron 2015 T-Shirt Design Category, Second Prize Winner of the 2009 Far Eastern University Annual Painting Competition and Grand Prize Winner of the National Historical Institute Art Contest, focuses on the Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile. As he sees both happiness and grief on her face, the artist opens the image to further interpretation not only with the central figure but also with his use of the entire canvas, engaging the viewer’s feelings and letting their interpretations take center stage.
Aldrine Alarcon’s Veracious presents a multi-fragmented Mona Lisa, with repeated elements and thin layers of paint that imply stylings of abstract realism. As he breaks the image down into pieces, he deconstructs mythology about the painting and shows different planes that may be considered smaller, non-representational works. He also adds a native Filipino flower which is only found in the tropics, a gumamela, as a representation of beauty that wilts and fades in time. Aldrine is the Third Prize Winner in the University of Santo Tomas Annual Painting Competition 2014 and Grand Prize Winner of the National Shell Art Competition, Calendar Category in both 2011 and 2012.
Didier Alarcon, Grand Prize Winner 44th of the National Shell Art Compeition and Semi-Finalist of the 45th National Shell Art Competition, posits the true meaning of perfection in his work Immaculacy. With today’s ideals of beauty, what matters most? Is it symmetry, shape and proportion, or flawlessness and utter perfection? Does it translate to material things, or should innate goodness and values be the ultimate goal? By painting the Mona Lisa’s body, he provides reflection on what is essential, and not just what is seen by plain sight. Though known more for his paintings of abandoned street scenes, Didier’s piece lends justice to the concept, his skills as a realistic painter visible with each brush stroke.
For Moreen Austria, fresh from the success of her 2016 exhibition at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the evolving roles of women and their unmistakable contributions to society influenced her works for the show. Inspired by the Master of Saint Giles and her Catholic faith, she uses the universally recognizable icon of the Madonna and Child common in the Italian Renaissance as subject for The Road to Greatness is Easier. The loving embrace of a mother cradling her child is evident in the piece, but contemporary references lend a touch of humor to the painting as it signifies better accessibility to women in terms of career and motherhood.
In Recycled Soul, a woman’s sense of self is brought to the fore, her implacable determination clearly showing on her face and overshadowing meek portrayals of women during previous moments of history when antiquated standards were still used to weigh her value. Though set in a classical pose, the woman faces her viewers with confidence, unafraid of confrontation, as she follows the beats of her own music. Moreen is affiliated with the Visayan Visual Arts Exhibit Conference Executive Commitee (ViVA ExCon), one of the most active organizations representing home-grown artists in the Southern Region of the Philippines. She was a Finalist in the Sculpture Category of MADE (Metrobank Art and Design Excellence) Competition in 2015, and Philippine Representative to the International Art Workshop and Exhibition at Prince of Songkhla University when she was granted their 2016 Travel Grant. She also participated in the 4th ASEAN Art Workshop and Exhibition in The Princess Galyani Vadhana Institute of Cultural Studies in Thailand. In 2015, she had a Fellowship Grant in the Abu Dhabi Art Hub, United Arab Emirates, where she was an artist in residence for Philippine Art Month.
Thirdy Bustamante, Grand Prize Winner of the Avida Painting Competition, 2014 Art Petron Runner Up and awarded First Honorable Mention in the 2014 University of Santo Tomas Annual Painting Competition gives homage to Johannes Vermeer in his work, Mona Lisa of the North. Based on the Girl With A Pearl Earring, one of Vermeer’s most famous paintings, Thirdy provides a more contemporary take, portraying the classical beauty with the additional depth of memento mori by painting a glimpse of a skull on the innocent and perpetually nubile maiden’s face. He also adds several blooms and petals of sampaguita, the Philippine national flower, to further underscore the vulnerability and frailty of the subject.
In Renaissance Revisit, the East looks upon the West for inspiration as usual, taking classical idealism and historical references as ground for new encounters of visual expression. However, by combining not only their indisputable artistic skills, contemporary images and conceptual perspectives, but also particular and personal attributes from home, these Filipino artists make the illustrious images their own.