Celebrating 50 years of abstract art
He calls himself and “artist, advocate [and]Filipino.”
On June 20, artist Francisco Verano unveiled his latest abstract works on canvas, along with older sculptures and paintings dating back to 1959. As the title overtly suggests, Fragmentos is a collection of pieces that serve as dynamic snippets of the artist’s oeuvre thus far.
Verano has been well known for his figurative landscape paintings and sculptures made of unconventional and indigenous materials (i.e. Bamboo Fugue Series now housed at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and at the National Commission on Culture and the Arts, House on Stilts Series of vMeme Contemporary Art Gallery Collection, et cetera).
Verano’s abstract paintings, which mostly are yet to be seen in public, have been at large a ‘’major constant” in his progression of works as an artist and comprise a big portion of his body of work. A lot of his sculptures interestingly appear to have picked up from these creations or vice versa, which stand to prove how he is involved in exploring various artistic media against the ever-changing social backdrops.
Expansive in its coverage, Fragmentos reveals trove of largely unseen and unexamined works which serves as a prelude to a more in-depth art historical catalogue of Verano’s works as it continually evolves. The exhibit is also an invitation to take part in an ever evolving organic work in progress of cataloguing an expansive body of work as well as present contemporary works charged with years of practice in Philippine art. The exhibit unveils 30 paintings and 9 sculptures alongside his very first recognized sculpture entitled Stone Idol which won him Art Association of the Philippines’ First Prize in Sculpture in 1959. Stone Idol is the groundbreaking fragment that jumpstarts the art historical visual ensemble in Fragmentos. The ensemble showcases his ingenious mastery of utilizing ordinary materials in the creation of artistic pieces where he is very much at the core of eliciting emotions using line, color, texture and space. Included also in the exhibit is a video that documents the artistic process and research work leading into the creation of the exhibit.
In his paintings, we could gloss over how Verano wields with the intensity of the blue palette moving on to the richness of warm colors from ochre to yellow and burnt sienna receding into monotone shades of brown and gray. The process of slowly discarding the intensity of hues can be likened to the movement of time, or seasons even, if one is to find the nuances of his landscape paintings transported into his abstractions. In one breath we are somewhat called to sense the coolness of the sky and water and then warmth of the earth and trees after which we are called into the vagueness and stillness of dawn or dusk.
Quoting Kirk Varnedoe in Pictures of Nothing, “The less there is to look at, the more you have to look, the more you have to be in the picture.”
Verano was born in 1937. He graduated with a degree in Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. A visual artist who has explored different media in painting and sculpture, Verano has exhibited extensively both locally and abroad. His works have become part of private and institutional collections. He has received several awards; among them: First Prize in Sculpture, given by the Art Association of the Philippines (1959) and Best Landscape Award in the 24th AAP Annual Art Competition (1971). He has also worked as an advertising professional since his graduation in 1962. He has helmed the Creative Arts/Marketing Communications department of several reputable companies, including Planter’s Products, Inc. (1977-1980); Mobil Awards for Philippine Art, Mobil Oil Philippines (1980-1981); and in 1991, he set-up his own advertising and public relations company. He has likewise received recognition in the field of advertising, winning the Award for Excellence in Advertising Art in the First Philippine Advertising Congress in 1969. He was President of the UP College of Fine Arts Alumni Foundation (1983-1991) and was President of the Saturday Group in 2003.
The exhibition is guest curated by Sheryll Torres and CreatingSPACE Inc. under its Relay Program. Fragmentos and will run until July 26 at vMeme Contemporary Art Gallery.
For inquiries, call Avie Felix at 964-5951 log on to www.vmemecontemporary.com and http://www.franciscoverano.com.