BY JAY BAUTISTA
|I See Them Bloom, 2017|
“Employing the air-brush technique in watercolor, he paints in a highly realistic, almost photographic style but situates it within a geometric scheme using multiple points of view.”
Art critic Alice Guillermo describing Rhythm of Cloth Production, Jaime Gubaton’s winning piece in ArtPetron National Student Art Competition in 2002.
If his first grand prize win in a national student art competition were to be his milestone, 36 year-old Jaime Gubaton has had a remarkable artistic journey for almost half of his life now.
It is quite appropriate for his third solo exhibition to be aptly titled Home as Gubaton waxes sentimental and dabbles into nostalgia by revisiting his past imaginative drives and employing these previous visual styles by painting them in a grand manner resulting in these recent works.
|Field of Dreams|
For Gubaton, every painting undergoes a long and arduous process; every line, hue and a gesture on canvas applies with it time well-spent perfecting that approach. Style-wise, Gubaton considers himself a realist by tradition despite the prevalent expressionist tendencies of his contemporaries. Yet it still is his being a bygone romantic that they cannot imbibe. With his subdued colors reminiscent of earth tones in art nouveau strokes, Gubaton is an old soul dwelling in a city. As a quaint artist, he fondly surveys his surroundings and directly responds to his observations by his affection and distinct dabs of paint.
A literal going back to one’s sources, Home incorporates his gears, flowers and birds—be it pigeons, lovebirds, or maya-maya--in organic, endemic and substantial circumstances. Separately they seem iconic yet belonging together they morph into a new pictorial vocabulary by recombining them.
Gubaton depicts the images as realistic as possible--working at his bare graphical mode as an illustrator: a radiant face of a loved one be it his lovely wife or children surrounded emanating with beauty such as birds, flowers and butterflies, they are his constant testimonials to a life still worth existing.
Indulging in his iconography, ever the positive his gears slowly long for progress, as he counters the urban decay we have been slowly grinding into. His pigeons remind him when they used to live with his father-in-law who breeds them on the building rooftop. Balancing nature and technology, a striking image of these winged beauties perched on electric posts would win for Gubaton a place in the Metrobank Art and Design Excellence (MADE) in the Painting category; that nature maybe in peril but there is inherent goodness in all of us. Manila may still be noble and ever loyal despite its grim uncertainty abounded with shanties.
Gubaton’s color schemes mingle well with his Magrittean compositions. Depending on his theme, it is either predominantly gray or sepia in mood. He subdues his colors with preference to mixing complimentary colors in sync with his shy demeanor. Not straight from the tube, he is too familiar with the behavior of his paints. Sometimes he favors acrylic that is hard to do with oil and vice versa.
|I Say Hello, 2017|
When the main subject has been rendered and dried up, he then adds the geometrical patterns, and fine linear renderings, although by definition he engages in them reminiscent of Arturo Luz. A master in composition, his houses may even be inverted in topsy-turvy delight yet Gubaton is meticulous in locating their firm balance, even placing grids to situate them as he has always been highly conceptual and controlled in his metaphors.
Layers have been Gubaton’s trademark evident in his winning in ArtPetron and the DPC DPC Visual Arts Competition. They have always been there, it has been his one foot in the contemporary art scene, Enhancing his foreground by using shadows in his background he has heavily favored optical illusions like repeated refrains in a song.
Charming titles reflect the timeless elegies Gubaton has crafted: For Your Eyes Only, Hello Sunshine and You Say Goodbye. He is ever pious not brash or harsh as viewed in his pieces. They evoke a domesticated feeling or a visual flow having a unified aesthetic presence integrated from its simple coherence of his oeuvre understood by the interplay of his experienced painting principles. Often mistaken as print because of its smoothness, he counters his brush technique textured (impasto) in acrylic yet he finishes in oil.
|You Say Goodbye, 2017|
Home is beyond stoic structures and spick and span surroundings, it is an amalgam resonating a semblance of family, security, and intimacy. It is induces comfort, belonging and harmony looking long and hard. It is Gubaton at his prowess as a painter; it is soft and sheer painting to the hilt. In Home, Gubaton has come full circle it is as if he never left.