“COMMUNE” – Lakbay Kalikasan at SM Art Center
A journey into intimacy with nature is the inspirational force behind the Aroma Art Academy, a band of Cebuano artists impelled to record, document, and perpetuate the slowly vanishing beauty and solitude of the countryside. Now on view at the Art Center, SM megamall, “Commune” is the appropriate title of the show as the word suggests an intense communication with the mystery of nature, an immersion into the wonders of rarely viewed places in the province of Cebu.
Participating artists are Orley Ypon, Jun Impas, Darby Alcoseba, Luis King, Mark Lloyd Belicario, Randy Plarisan, Bobier Crispin, and Romulo Pautan.
Collectively, they come from successive generations of Cebuano artists representing the artistic heirs of Cebuano master Martino Abellana, who encouraged his students to paint directly from nature. It is noteworthy to mention that Abellana himself was mentored by National Artist Fernando Amorsolo at the UP School of Fine Arts. Amorsolo regularly painted outdoors, journeying on weekends with fellow artists to the countryside of Marikina, Bulacan and Tagaytay.
The French term “Plein air” is the traditional category for painting outdoors, meaning “in the open air.” Outdoor was popularized by the Impressionists such as Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Theodore Bazille, who as young students in Paris were inspired by the so-called Barbizon painters. A village near the forest of Fontainebleau outside the city of Paris, the French painters, such as Theodore Rousseay, Jean-Francois Millet, and Charles-Francois Daubigny and Camille Corot, made the French landscape the subject of their painting. They were themselves inspired by the example of the English artist John Constable, the Romantic painter whose rural scenes were painted directly from nature.
Following this tradition, the Aroma Art Academy also travelled to unexplored localities and remote areas in Toledo, such as Aloguinsan, Pinamungajan, and Sodlon.
Orley Ypon now paints with loose brushstrokes, in contrast to the previous realistic renditions of his so-called “mud people.” Recalling the bathing maidens of Amorsolo, Jun Impas gives a private view of Cebuana lasses with their lissome bodies drenched wet in a stream. Crispin Bobier depicts a hardy farmer departing from his lowly shack with his daily “co-worker.” Mark Belicario discovers erotically suggestive images in nature. Amosolo-esque is Randy Plarisan’s flowing stream and bamboo groves. Romulo Pautan captures the solitude of a deserted dwelling place shrouded with overcast skies. Lately taking up the brush, Luis King is drawn towards the serene and the pastoral, but evocative of Monet’s restless brushstrokes. A tangle of thick underbrush and a wild vegetation of shrubs and bushes are the woodsy setting of Daryl Alcoseba.
Emotionally swept by their deep communion with Cebu’s countryside, the artists of Aroma Art Academy share their pictorial talent with the Metro Manila public, parched for the spiritually nourishing and refreshing aesthetic bounty of nature.