Arturo Luz, a giant of Philippine art, has continued to enchant the Filipino public with his work. Who can but not notice those massive yet elegant geometrical sculptures? And who can forget his paintings reduced to the most basic of graphic elements: lines, curves, color and field.
But a landmark exhibition at Silverlens shows that sculpture and painting are not only the genres the artist has mastered. 'The Painter as photographer' shows Luz equally adept behind the camera lens as he is in front of a canvas.
This show of photographs and photocollages occupies all three sections of Silverlens Manila. They include travel photographs from Rajasthan, India and southeast Asia. These bring to the fore Luz's acuity to see strikes of unexpected beauty while on the road and arrest such revelatory moments on film. These travel photographs from the 1990s began as source material for Luz's later paintings, but seen on their own stand equally potent in their own right.
Out of this set sprouted a series of photographic still lives, taken a decade later and this time with a digital Leica camera. Here we do not see a Luz beholden the technology's dizzying promise. Rather he tames it to suit his own motives. What he gives is an exquisite serving of 'tabletop' pictures: photographs of personal items collected in the past four decades - terra cotta jugs, deepwater seashells and bronze antiques. The effect of careful positioning of mass, light and shadow across a visual plane produces a still and distilled beauty - evoking an aura similar to paintings by Giorgio Morandi - whose work Luz has repeatedly revisited.
But providing the most refreshing view of Luz's practice is the constellation of nearly 200 photocollages that grace the gallery's largest space. These proceed from photos of sections of Luz's own paintings, cut out and rearranged to arrive at several variations of shapes, colours or line details the artist have long meditated over. He quickly assembles these pieces, almost in minutes, in actions that are spontaneous, instinctive, snappy. An approach that the artist escapes to away from the studied production of painting every once in a while. A shift that then not only refreshes the artist -as he admits- but the viewer as well.
Curated by photographic artist Rachel Rillo, 'The Painter as photographer' is the last instalment for this year of a string of exhibitions of new works from the venerated National Artist to show in Manila.
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Thursday November 28, 2013 - Saturday December 21, 2013