Text by Grace Ng
When viewers look at Raul Isidro’s work, they are lost in the artist’s act of creation, in his selection of bright colors, and the lucid forms that emerge from his imagination. One is drawn to the discovery of color and form in Isidro’s Abstract Expressionism. He instinctively gravitates to an Abstract Expressionist approach, and has never been concerned with any linear restrictions. His works create a bold statement, yet display a classic style.
Isidro’s works often take off from landscape as a starting point or are influenced by nature in its basic form, surrounded by hues, light, motion, depth and mood. For the artist, inspiration comes from many origins, even in the conceived imagination of those who have gone before him. Isidro has since produced a range of organic contemporary paintings, with an approach to creating from an experimental angle.
One can tell the concurrence between the physical world and Isidro’s creations. He uses shape and form to define the context of nature’s phenomena.
His work resembles no one else’s: it is tender, pensive, intensely concerned with color and silhouette, it seems to be about the essential condition of perceiving the world. Important themes in Isidro’s works include the context of the image, its representative purpose, its transfiguration, and its continuous shift in the context of art and life.
Isidro’s work may be seen as mirroring and attempting to mimic the splendor of nature. It can also be perceived that he has set parameters, preferring certain colors or figures, to push his work in a direction that fundamentally leads to a series of kindred pieces.
The multi-awarded abstractionist takes the time to hone the talents of the next generation and to promote emerging artists. At 75, Isidro continues to actively participate in art activities and unselfishly shares his knowledge with up-and-coming artists. Isidro is indeed an art guru of Philippine contemporary art.
A distinguished pioneer in the field, Isidro earnestly believes that art must be felt to be fully enjoyed. This has strengthened his crusade to develop and encourage art appreciation among the public.
Demonstrating his creative genius in numerous media, Isidro’s artistic accomplishments and creativity has been showcased in various art exhibitions locally and in foreign shores, including Germany, Israel, Spain, China, the Netherlands, Australia, and the United States.
For Glimpsing Terra Firma at Galerie Stephanie, works displayed such as “Remains of a Temple” and “Horizon II” can be described as a sublime refraction of worlds, derived from visual interpretations of nature, intertwined with surrounding man-made structures of the urban landscape. Through memory and creative vision, the works seek to transcend what is seen and what is experienced through a realm of seamless and isomorphic abstraction. The paintings explore vibrant color combinations with the goal of transforming the artist’s observations into a dynamic palette.
The long, animated diagonals of “Reflected Lights” echo the hectic pace of daily urban life. Lush and potent, each vital stroke creates unexpectedly vivid moments where they intersect, building perplexed colors, anticipated, but not mixed on a palette. The crisp, blue space serves both as passage through the painting and a resting place from probable overload, serving as a very precise entropy.
Complexity and texture are built using veils of color for “Windy Winter,” and the resulting image shows the construction process of the painting by both shrouding and releasing the elements within. The painting represents an effort to develop a visual language that speaks to the connection between being a spectator and a participant.
The organic contours of “Shoreline” evolve from the abundance of rocks and crashing waves prevalent in local coastal provinces. The strokes lend a faceted, feather-like quality to the pigment, backlit by the green background. Isidro works in both positive and negative space, delighting in the compounded colors created where layers overlap. Isidro’s images blur the line between scenery and narrative vignette. Elements of trompe l’oeil and illusory rendering coexist to further abstract the space between the physical and immaterial.
Isidro’s works are predominantly influenced by the changing mood of Mother Earth and the environment. He has worked on sculptures and started working on mixed media abstracts in the 60s with the use of acrylic, newly introduced in the country at the time. He experimented with the use of gold leaf on canvas in the late 80s while in the United States, but had shown it publicly only in the early 90s. Even after more than a hundred solo and group exhibits held in the country and in major cities in the U.S., Israel, India, Indonesia, Spain, West Germany, France, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, China and Singapore, Isidro remains the same dedicated artist who paints almost every day.
An influential personality from the 60s up to the present, Raul Isidro is a true visionary who constantly experiments with the possibilities of abstraction.