Painted landscapes have a long and rich tradition in visual art history. They were first depicted mimetically, as artists were often commissioned to paint works for patrons who longed for a particular scene, or to record a historical event. At the dawn of the Modernist age, artists became more concerned about depicting a landscape’s emotional spirit. Thus, landscapes became more and more abstracted.
On July 26, ArtistSpace and Galerie Joaquin will present “Landscapes,” an exhibition showcasing Raul Isidro’s best pieces from his “Abstracted Landscapes” series.
Raul Isidro, a renowned figure in Philippine Modernism, turned rock landscapes into complete organic abstractions that recall the zen-inspired swaths of Japanese calligraphy. His works imbue audiences with a sense of calm with minimalist aesthetics and a strong, bold palette.
Born in 1943, Isidro is a native of Calbayog in Samar. He is a product of the Fine Arts program of the University of Santo Tomas, where he finished with a degree in Advertising. During this period, Isidro found himself in the presence of National Artist Victorio Edades, the Father of Modernism in the Philippines, and other stalwarts of the Late Modernist period such as sculptors Ramon Orlina and Eduardo Castrillo.
Isidro first exhibited at Solidaridad Bookstore’s Gallery in 1969, at the invitation of National Artist for Literature and Solidaridad owner F. Sionil Jose, and has had over 50 solo shows since then.
From this first show, the foundations of Isidro’s practice were laid, and he soon became known as a formidable abstractionist, eventually garnering multiple awards such as inclusion in 1979’s group of Ten Outstanding Young Men, and the Outstanding Thomasian Award in 2006—an honor he shares with Ramon Orlina.
Isidro is known for being dedicated to abstraction as a purist of the aesthetics, which he has always regarded as the highest form of painting. “I was looking for symbols that I could use as themes,” the artist told art critic Leo Banesa in 1980. And Isidro uses the depth of abstraction to demonstrate these themes.
Landscapes will be on view at the ArtistSpace, located at the Ayala Museum Annex, until August 8.