BY JAY BAUTISTA |
Memory, mystic and melancholy persist in the recent paintings of John Paul Antido. A certain lightness of being permeates these characteristics such as that they evolve in the realm of his fertile imagination. In so doing Antido’s conducive characters never touch the ground, close to hypnotic one gaze long and hard at them. And the fleeting feeling never goes away haunting us long after viewing the exhibition.
Sa Kalawakan, Irog ay Humayo creeps in some more. Like a cool breeze dwelling deeper into the night something magical happens proving to be a more suitable ambience. Antido belongs to the old school bringing back storytelling in painting. Like in a trance, everything floats as Antido enchants us back to the ground with humble realities done in his folklore-like narrative as if his collective works is one long tale to be told side by side.
Such as in Bihag ng Gabi, one could almost levitate with the woman quietly ascending to the heavens as darkness prevails. A kind of escape, with alienation marked on her face, she is unconsciously slipping to a faraway reality. Her stoic composure may not reflect her sensibilities but they mirror her longing enlightenment with poetical allusions.
Antido’s calm and balanced spatial harmony is illuminated with insights of the human condition. The blatant irony as the world progress, the more we are connected by technology, the farther the distance we are separated by hatred and greed for one another. Kanya Kanyang Kamunduhan is a masterpiece done in three parts manifesting this concern for one’s ambition
and individuality created by a person’s needs and aspirations. To each his own peddling for his survival, they remain focus on their dreams as the constellations interconnect them together hoping for emancipation and fulfillment of one’s dreams.
The more engaged pieces in this triptych are enlarged in Planet series. Similar to the characters of The Little Prince, the smaller planets demonstrates one’s larger than life personal space. The lines of the axis serves as background intersecting like drawing dots making them part of the bigger and better version of the universe of us. We merely are specks belonging to an encompassing spectrum. We think locally but should act globally.
Well versed in this painterly style, Antido has finely matured with his brushstrokes. Starting off with pen and ink on paper he does an acrylic sketch for his first coating. Depending on his desired composition, three coats of paints are mixed and applied layer by layer. Emanating from thinness to thickness, they are done in short but firm strokes are on top of one another. Gradually achieving his aspired texture, he oftentimes lets the previous hues left slightly peering through. He then glazes thereafter. In this certain luminosity marked by his impasto technique, Antido has placed everything in his own unique viewpoint easing out discontentment and frustrations we may have in life.
Antido’s brilliance remains how he sublimely tempers by slowing down his lyrical narrative to whatever fast-paced desperation our present day existence forcibly envelopes us. He diffuses harshness and squalor with the quaint and composed posture of his subjects. This trailblazing spirit is evidenced among Antido’s women such as in Seeking Mothership. They are purpose-driven and strong enough to redirect fate by their own feminine hands. With the wide and open skies of Antipolo influencing his hovering perspective, they cruise afloat driven by their own sentiments towards life. Notice how Antido advocates the traditional Filipino folk values by effectively infusing archaic words as tadhana, muni-muni, and hangarin done in transient cutouts similar to meticulously done pastillas wrapper. By simplifying these big concepts he reinterprets the contemporary by revisiting the positive and holistic with his new varying interpretations. Staple to Antido is that subjects are garbed in Filipiniana in their wholesome wellness and refined gestures--juxtaposing our bygone culture with modern approaches revitalizing fresh meanings in the millennial reading of the image.
The alarming dying of culture is better interpreted by injecting fantasy or the mythical into something seemingly surreal. In Abducted the endangered carabao and threatened farmer is dislodged in his native soil by UFO. The beaming bright light hints that their simple days are critically numbered.
Spacebound is an upbeat you-and-me-against-the world-love tale. Being stricken by arrows, an eloping couple is pursued by forces against them. Nothing can stop them in breaking free with the power of volition and fate fueling their journey to uncertainty to fate.
In his more than a decade of art practice, Antido has dealt with impermanence and displacement extensively. His anonymous solitary travelers are endlessly searching, seeking for something, or going away. Capturing an ephemeral time in an ethereal place on canvas, some resemble prominent national heroes. More than their similarities in features, it is the character of a Rizal or Bonifacio he longs for his viewers to emulate.
Despite the desolation to our problems and dilemmas outside our lieu of comfort, Antido has kept the faith in expressing reality by revealing magical elements to his colorful visual imagery. Favoring heavenly bodies Antido has a romantic soul, who may have been an astronomer in another lifetime. He never fails to make you swoon upon first sight. With much respect to the audience, he leaves much of his framed portrayal on how they resonate to their liking. An open ended dialogue occurs with him initiating that you stop and look for a while.
Sa Kalawakan, Irog ay Humayo: 8th Solo Exhibition by John Paul Antido is ongoing at the Boston Gallery until July 22, 2017