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Abstract meditations


By Ma. Glaiza Lee, Contributor

Abstract art may puzzle and confuse some, but its artistic value and historical achievements cannot be denied. Moving away from an accurate depiction of reality to show something beyond it, abstract art, for Filipino artist Raul Isidro, allows one to express his deepest feelings in a way other visual art forms could not.
In his latest solo exhibit “Raul Isidro: Abstract Meditations,” Isidro shares his innermost emotions and thoughts through his 22 contemporary works expertly curated by Gallery Valentina. The exhibit is part of the “Of Art and Wine” series of Gallery C in Conrad Manila Hotel, following the exhibit honoring National Artist Arturo Luz.
For the uninitiated, the abstract paintings may appear puzzling, but Isidro simplifies things when he reveals that his paintings are “rocks” — the sea rocks jutting out the shore of Calbayog, his hometown.
With his mastery of vibrant colors, shapes, forms and gestural marks, Isidro creates amazing interpretations of nature, which are often grounded on his intimate childhood memories back when he was still residing in the idyllic town in Northern Samar. His textured abstract works reverberate with natural simplicity yet filled with artistic sensibility.
Known for his trademark gestural strokes and segmented shaped forms, Isidro's works have always been inspired by his experiences while traveling. "There are some works which are inspired by what I saw from the plane window. When you're looking from above, things are different. Even the waters have a different color," the artist shares.
One of the leading voices among the second generation of Philippine modernists, Isidro began his art career in the late 1960s to early 1970s, with his first exhibit at the premier La Solidaridad Bookstore's Gallery (owned by National Artist F. Sionil Jose) in 1969.
Back then, he explored and experimented with different art forms, starting with printmaking. The late artist Manuel Rodriguez Sr. introduced him to the unconventional techniques of printmaking, which became Isidro's lifelong passion. It was through printmaking that the abstractionist first garnered awards at the Shell National Student Art Competition.
He later ventured in other media including stones, metal and wood for his sculpture, and started working on mixed media abstracts using acrylic, which was starting to become the choice of medium in the country at the time. While living in the United States in 1980s, Isidro experimented with the use of gold leaf on canvas.
But it was really abstraction — distinct abstractions that derived their inspiration from nature — that captured his heart. The 1979 Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) awardee has been predominantly influenced by the beauty of nature and the changing moods of Mother Earth.
Even after more than a hundred solo and group exhibits held in the country and in major cities in the US, Israel, India, Indonesia, Spain, West Germany, France, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, China and Singapore, Isidro remains steadfast on his art. Since his debut in the art scene, he has not rested and continues to create his art.
Believing that "art must be felt to be fully enjoyed," it has become Isidro's crusade to develop and encourage art appreciation in the grassroots. He unselfishly shares his knowledge and time in honing the next generation artists and promoting arts by participating in various artistic activities, forums, workshops, among others.
"We are delighted to open the year with an exhibit that evokes a warm and vibrant character. Isidro's abstract-expressionist style of works feature richly textured paintings that reverberate in both natural simplicity and stylistic sophistication, and complements Conrad Manila's luxurious interiors," enthused Laurent Boisdron, the new general manager of Conrad Manila.

“Raul Isidro: Abstract Meditations” exhibit runs until April 8 at Gallery C, Conrad Manila. For more information, call 833-999 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or contact Gallery Valentina at 0917-3511186 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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