Strokes of Genius
In 2011, after being a finalist for the third time in a national art competition, Cezar Arro strongly yet strangely felt that he would claim the grand prize on his fourth and final try. Even attending the awarding ceremonies at the National Museum, the Visayan artist had his high hopes revved up when the winning citation hinted in describing at his painting only to embark the plane back home to Iloilo, empty-handed.
In his then shanty studio in the rice fields, on an obvious fit of desperation--and exasperation—Arro was at the brink of giving up. Arro splattered what were left of the used paints in his overused palette at a primed white canvas in a final gallant act. A literal explosion of colors emerged-- like a divine apparition--from the layering of paints, a beautiful face poignantly stared intently back at him. As if comforting him, the masterpiece, Far Out, was created and his signature enigmatic visual style using impasto technique was further developed and accepted by both the audience and collectors alike.
Using the paint brush and the palette done in his distinct textured brushwork, Arro has continued his creative passion since then. Often finding the familiar from the plethora of hues, an accident consciously becomes a recognizable and a sight to behold resurfaces. After years of struggle, these strokes were honed from the constant beating of life—only to be cleansed and even purified—as in a boiling furnace.
For Fun’Demix, his Arro’s first solo exhibition in the new normal—his tenth ever since—a more confident and emphatic Arro is back with pleasure and vengeance. A play of words from the word pandemic, Arro grapples with Fun’Demix to find lightness out of these stressful times. Eschewing criticality between life and death yet it is disruptive as it comforts the afflicted as it promotes harmonious co-existence among all of us.
In fact, as if in a constant dialogue with art, Arro’s titles have become more conversational in nature as if he is directly talking to his masterpieces: Ask Yourself Who am I, Mysteriously Who, and Wonder How are worthy of mention.
More spontaneous in strokes, more vibrant in colors. Arro flexes his paint prowess in A Smile Like Yours, Beauty in Bloom, Pretty in Bloom. A more playful Arro has come out of the box. Making his paintings more raw, braver, wilder, yet they are as honest and free as Arro desired when he emphatically composed them.
Arro has perfected portraying the face in a whimsical manner at present--in an almost abstract fashion. He has variously done as many as three-folds like someone who is hallucinating or in constant motion through a camera. Consider Ask Yourself Who Am I, Dancing With the Colors, Mind Heart, Skill, and Mysteriously Who as spontaneous improvisations on canvas done is sheer wet on wet bravura.
Sometime Arro accomplishes his conceptual feat with a single long, arduous dabble. He has also done monochrome shades particularly bluish as this is an antidote to uplifting the sordid sentiments prevalent in this pandemic. Examples are Am I Thinking of You, Wonder How--both bluish, Hologram Monochrome Pretty came from one gradation in mind.
When all has been said and done, Arro alternates beauty with existential angst as evident in Finding/Missing Series and Masks series in sync with the signifying times
Like praying or deeply meditating, the best way to appreciate an Arro piece is staying in front of his paintings and just be there. As they do not belong in time, one must seek a certain solitude and in search that particular mood and just be still for a while--marvel at his lines, textures and colors. You breathe for the moment and live in the now--take them all in.
Raw, Organic and Ethereal
While Arro did not attended formal fine art school or any art workshops, he had a more organic route in his being an fully-pledged artist. He hanged out with his friends who favored wearing black while listening to heavy metal music. Even Arro was in a short-lived rock band while some of them were inking tattoos for a living.
In this new normal, after doing daily rounds on his bicycle, Arro’s days starts by playing the songs of Megadeth, Pantera, and Slayer loudly full blast. As heavy metal music waifs, the conducive ambience of his studio is conditioned and further seeped in. Arro then begins the process of mixing his paints, often wet on top of the other before scrapping then in his palette in almost five layers of paint in almost muddy concentration.
In these days of community quarantines imposed by the government, Arro is best appreciated for his sheer tour de force and vulnerability to one’s emotions. One is actually susceptible to say that his paintings talks back to them every day--that kind of art that soothes the soul as it quenches the heart. And Arro is proof that when life hands you a lemon, you make a damn lemonade. It is more refreshing and tastier than just plain water.
Cezar Arro is an expressionism and modern realistic visual artist based in Iloilo. His paintings of facial expressions are non-deliberate and unexpected. It is in the spur of the moment that he generates his art without any basis from bound documentation and is part of his own imagination and concept. Most, if not all, of his works are based on experiences, his own existence -- from the time of his early works as a struggling artist up to the moment of him experimenting unexpected and uncalled-for concepts.
Cezar Arro is one of the most dedicated visual artists of our time. He has been in the scene for over 21 years and has regularly been featured in local, national, and international publications like Sun Star, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Contemporary Art Magazine of the Philippines, Elite Magazine and Asian Arts News. He is a four-time finalist of the prestigious Philippine Art Awards. Aside from his regular exhibitions in the Philippines, Cezar Arro has also participated in international exhibitions including Art Apart in Singapore 2017 and Affordable Art Fair in Hong Kong from 2015 - 2019.