While Sofronio Ylanan Mendoza, born in 1934, can be classified as an artist now in the autumn of his years, he can look back on a life marked not only by struggles, trials and travails but also a life full of triumphs and successes.
To showcase his legacy, SYM—as he is fondly called—opened Tadhana, his solo exhibition of recent oils and pastels at the Makati Shangri-la.
As a poor young man with humble origins in Cebu, SYM had sought out the mentorship of the acknowledged Cebuano master Martino Abellana in the town of Carcar, several kilometers south of Cebu City. SYM learned literally at the foot of master Abellana, consequently opening his eyes to the wonders and techniques in the art of Realism.
But his fate led to his adventures in breaking into the art scene in Manila. SYM eventually made it to the city by way of his labors as a jeepney signage painter, his studies at the University of Santo Tomas, and his transfer of residence to a Manila district known as Dimasalang, where a nascent group of realist painters had emerged.
The Dimasalang Group would evolve into a second and third generation of painters, such was the power of a shared artistic vision in Realism.
In the year 2001, in an astounding turn-around, SYM pursued a vein of Cubism, inspired by the Filipino Cubist Vicente Manansala’s “Transparent Cubism.”
Transparent Cubism, in the hands of SYM, has assumed a gentle and lyrical tonality, with a mellow chromatic range of pastels—blushing pinks and apple greens and lemony yellows—and a nativist relish of Philippine fruits and vegetables such as mangoes and bananas, eggplants, and upo, the bottle gourd.
For close to two decades, SYM has not once succumbed to the blandishments of collectors to return to his previous style of realism.
Tadhana will until March 27 at Hiraya Gallery, located at 530 United Nations Avenue, Ermita, Manila.