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.
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.
Isidro’s latest exhibition, Landscapes, displays the best pieces of his series of abstracted landscapes. The exhibit opens on Wednesday, July 26, 2017, 6:30 in the evening at ArtistSpace Gallery, Ground Floor, Ayala Museum Annex, Greenbelt Park, Makati Avenue corner dela Rosa Street, Makati City. Landscapes runs until August 8, 2017. For inquiries please call 723-9418 or 723-9253.
Raul Isidro (b. 1943) 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. At UST during the period was National Artist Victorio Edades, regarded as the leading advocate of Modernism in the country. It is not surprising that among Isidro during his time at UST were other stalwarts of the Late Modernist period, including 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 (TOYM), and the Outstanding Thomasian Award in 2006–an honor he shares with Ramon Orlina.
He also won the Cultural Grant Award from the Australian government in 1981 and was a 1st prize awardee at the Printmakers Association of the Philippines Annual competition in 1972.
It was also in 1972 that Isidro began what eventually became a long association with the Fine Arts program of the Philippine Women’s University (PWU), where he nurtured the department which was founded by pioneering printmaker Manuel Rodriguez Sr.
Through his tenure at PWU, where he eventually became Director of the College of Fine Arts in 1975, Isidro became heavily involved in printmaking–which also served to enhance his approach to painting. His two mediums served to complement each other in ways that were, at times, revolutionary.
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.