Galerie Nathalie Obadia is pleased to present Beneath, Between, Behind, Filipino artist Robert Gutierrez’s first solo exhibition in France. On this occasion, the artist invites us to discover his singular universe, situated between abstraction and figuration, mixed with Filipino cultural heritage and other artistic influences (High), and informed by elements of more popular contemporary culture (Low).
In this exhibition, Robert Gutierrez offers us about fifteen anamorphic landscapes that question our perception of shapes, space and storyline. His paintings find inspiration in the great Surrealist masters, like Salvador Dalí, André Masson and Oscar Dominguez, with their bizarre metamorphoses, or in the transformed landscapes of Max Ernst and Wilfredo Lam. In Robert Gutierrez’s works, the landscapes are supernatural, with futuristic colors and subjects that reference Filipino myths and folklore, while also giving off an atmosphere similar to that of cartoons and science fiction.
His drawing is simultaneously naïve and sophisticated. In Past Midnight, we can make out a childish silhouette, with irregular proportions, who exists in a hostile, rocky world, depicted in painstaking detail by the artist. In Sanctuary, the spectator is at first plunged in a lunar, blue-tinted world, where faults and fissures pile up haphazardly and endlessly. As our gaze zeroes in, the artist’s details and storyline become all the more visible. We can imagine a faraway ship that invites us on a journey, or a pair of eyes that watch us.
Robert Gutierrez’s works are invitations to dream, and each viewer also plays the role of a narrator. The artist constantly encourages us to awaken our senses and our spirits. The paintings bring out things hidden away in the deep recesses of our unconscious, through his peculiar cast of characters and the hybrid forms that do not belong to the realm of reality and that seem to float in dreamlike landscapes.
However, Robert Gutierrez’s inspiration is very real, and echoes his childhood and the chaotic and complex history of the Philippines. The ramshackle streets of Manila gave him the idea to create landscapes at once wrecked and futuristic. The storylines are replete with religious references and indigenous cultural myths.
In Andromeda or Grotto, we discern, at the center of the composition, men in pious poses, a reminder of the Filipino population’s deep attachment to the Catholic religion. With the Spanish colonization in the early 16th century and the evangelization of local tribes, the country has become one of the most devout in the world. As for the hybrid creatures that are present in Land’s End or Green River, they are inspired by the local tribes’ belief in mystical creatures.