Arts & Culture

“Times Five” – A Five Man Abstract Exhibition

Renaissance Art Gallery has recently opened its newest group exhibition dubbed “Times Five” – A Five Man Abstract Exhibition top billed by actor and re-elected mayor of Ormoc City Richard Gomez. Joining him in this exhibit are four interesting abstractionist artists — Sio Montera, Sam Penaso, Jay Ragma, and Aner Sebastian. The show will run until June 26, 2019 at the Art Center, SM Megamall.

Here is an ingenious and distinct interpretation of artist-critic Cid Reyes on the works of the five celebrated artists.

Richard Gomez

Siargao Acrylic on canvas 84″ x 84″ 2019

Despite two successive successful solo shows, can one now divorce the personas of Richard Gomez as a movie star and re-elected mayor of Ormoc City from his emerging identity as a serious artist? Destined it seems to play stellar roles in his life, in whatever venture he sets his heart on, Gomez has already hurtled past the “initiation” rite of joining  the local art scene and being accepted by a discriminating art community.

Gomez with actress-politician-wife, Lucy Torres-Gomez gracing the exhibit

In his first solo show titled “Surface” held at the Pinto Art Museum, no less, Gomez braved the challenge of depicting two national cataclysms that befell the country: the “Yolanda” devastation and the “Marawi Siege.” In both, Gomez drove the subjects through a dazzle of wildly abstract expressionist brushwork in outsized canvases.  In a succeeding show, titled “When Evening Comes,” still in the same venue, Gomez displayed a lyrical hand, inspired by the night skies of Ormoc, and the seascape of Siargao.

Clearly, Richard Gomez has gone beyond the surface, and, responding to the impulses of abstraction, has now delved into the depths of serious art-making.

Sio Montera

Sensation of the Changing Seasons II acrylic on canvas 122cm x 122cm 2019

“Process-oriented” has been the constant descriptive word for the art of Sio Montera. An abstractionist to the core, he revels in a non-referential world, charged into existence by a seeming act of sleight-of-hand, where the determined execution of the work is marvellously wedded to the physical behaviour of his material.

By turns, Montera’s art is a confluence of mind over matter, and matter over mind. Wherever the painting may decide as to its direction, the struggle with its creator is a distinct partnership, where the end result is not a perturbed painting born out of stress, strain, and anxiety, but a joyous celebration of the magical process of painting.

Montera’s technique may look provocative, for the original intention is always for the artist to be taken by surprise. It is the viewer, after all, in the process, who is finally rewarded by the artist’s willed pursuit of the unexpected. A whirlwind line or a distressed surface evinces an irrevocable elegance and dignity, incarnated by Sio Montera’s furious mastery of his material.

Sam Penaso

Unlimitext Circle mixed media 48′ diameter 2019

From painting to sculpture to performance art, Sam Penaso is as slippery as an eel; beyond the instant grasp of a drop of mercury, itself a perfect metaphor for the artist whose career has been impressively mercurial.

While this specific sensibility may lend itself to a dolorous seriousness, Penaso redeems himself with dollops of mirth and deadpan humor, rejoicing in the playfulness of his approach to art making. Chancing upon a mound of discarded metallic parts was enough, for instance, to ignite his feverish imagination and to frolic literally hands-on in the manipulation of his treasured trash. In his paintings, textured letters and numbers may recall Jasper Johns, but not in the way he jumbled and welded them in an orgiastic melee.

As a performance artist, in his persona of “Striped Walker,” Penaso had the cheek to pose beside the giant, three-dimensional letters “SAM.” The word stands for Singapore Art Museum, where, after all he had been invited to perform.

Jay Ragma

Mind Watching acrylic on canvas 24″ x 18″ 2019

Where does Jay Ragma draw the line between the spare delicacy of execution and the symphonic blast of disciplined strings? In a relatively short stretch of time devoted to his art production, the artist has certainly illuminated Paul Klee’s classic definition: “A line is taking a dot for a walk.”

Ragma has done exactly done, indeed by leaps and bounds, and happily picking up major awards along the way. That should not be surprising though, for in an art scene besotted with colors, and more colors, Ragma had the instinct and prescience to devote his passion to the plastic element that least attracts a horde of artists.

In a Ragma painting, the sharply delineated lines, repeated incessantly, emerge from space and void, hurtling it towards the viewer in a velocity of rhythm and symmetry. Weaving a relentless cascade, in crosscurrents of ascent and descent, Ragma’s threads and wires are adrenalin-driven, sprinting headlong, at full speed, into an invisible finish line.

Aner Sebastian

Effulgence acrylic on canvas 32″ x 24″ 2019

In the art of Aner Sebastian, organic growth comes into efflorescence, bringing memories of lush vegetation, gardens, forests, orchards, and flowers. These works, bristling with the most vibrant and vivid, high-keyed colors, could only have been conceived and executed under the heat of a seething sun in a tropical country.

Through the years, Aner Sebastian has construed his art to be a metaphor for man’s spiritual journey on earth, a stroll through the Garden of Eden, emerging luxuriously from pure imagination. Impressionistic daubs and impastos of luscious pigments are corralled within geometric enclosure, as if harnessing the soil’s fertility, evincing the root of all life-source.

The multiplicity of floral and petal-like forms alludes to a sense of natural abundance, an emotional flourishing, and an epiphany of the human spirit.  In this regard, the artist has conveyed a specific vision to which he has obstinately been faithful, and not easily swayed by the passing shower of every trendy idiom or style.

Artist-Critic Cid Reyes is the author of choice of National Artists Arturo Luz, BenCab, J. Elizalde Navarro, and Napoleon V. Abueva. He has written/co-written over forty art books and numerous art reviews. Reyes received a “Best in Art Criticism” Award from the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP).

#RenaissanceGallery #fiveartists #TimesFive #groupexhibition #abstract #artscene #artnews

Images: RenaissanceGallery

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Ruby is a true-blooded media practitioner and a journalist by profession. She served her early years as a lifestyle writer for a leading magazine and a couple of corporate engagements to which she learned the ropes of editorial work –  and dealing with almost the brightest personalities and celebrities in tinsel town. She had a very productive stint at the now-defunct AMPR Publicity and Communications, Inc. It was also during this period that she honed her skills in Marketing when she had the opportunity to serve as Committee Member at the prestigious Philippine Marketing Association. For inquiries, invites, or to send relevant press content, email the author at FB pages:


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