by Lisa Ito
A tribute to Galleria Duemila’s founder and art director Silvana Ancelloti-Diaz, this exhibition by three of the gallery’s consistent exhibiting artists through the decades offers three individual moments of rumination through abstraction.
The moving gesture is explored in Trek Valdizno’s suite of four paintings for the show. Valdizno combines four intense pigments—black, white and red against gold—and large brush strokes to produce grand, calligraphic forms. The resulting images stand out and shimmer against the light, denoting the power and movement of blithe and robust flight. The titles of each work are fleeting poetic moments: connoting, for instance, a turn of thought or a revelatory moment.
The tangible physicality and texture of pure pigment, on the other hand, can be experienced firsthand in Jonathan Olazo’s canvases. Olazo presents paintings which are each built up through layers of short, overlapping dabs and taps of acrylic and oil paint: producing layered, impressionistic images. The paintings are either vertically or horizontally oriented, hinting at the conventions of portrait or landscape paintings. Each is lyrically titled: offering a seeming recollection of vivid vignettes spanning memories of tranquil moonlit nights by the sea to poetic impressions of "the messenger with beautiful feet".
There are no words to name R.M. de Leon’s series of untitled mixed media abstractions, which combine translucent washes and more subdued earthy hues with deftly-rendered forms. A closer look at the works, however, reveals strange surprises, such as the occasional photograph, rough scribble or figurative element seamlessly integrated into the whole composition. De Leon infuses a nuanced sense of play and color in these images, producing an entire series of quietly enigmatic compositions which seamlessly integrate graphic and painterly expression.
The combination of these three distinct sensibilities in a single show is a fitting homage to Diaz and her own personal journey of supporting the arts over the course of five decades. Born in Italy to a family which instilled in her an early love of art, Diaz eventually established roots in the Philippines and has resided in the country ever since 1971. As a gallerist and arts manager, she founded and led Galleria Duemila to be an institution which has both ably presented the work of Philippine artists, at home and to the world, and which has continuously emphasized the value and practice of art historical research and scholarship and thorough documentation in its operations.
The exhibition also emphasizes how Diaz has consistently and quietly championed the work of Philippine abstractionists, several generations of whom have been represented by the gallery from the start. This lyrical moment of giving back led by de Leon, Olazo and Valdizno distills Diaz’s feisty spirit and sensibility into visions both beautiful and brave. •
Lisa Ito is a writer, artist and activist. She graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts in Diliman with a major in art history and has pursued the practice of art writing since 2001.