After 50 years, nature continues to inspire Raul Isidro 2
Raul Isidro and his art entitled "Yellow Wind"
Culture

Raul Isidro’s ‘Resonance’: The spirit is willing and the art is robust

The abstractionist says he has yet to exhaust the vast riches of his favorite subject
Lito B. Zulueta | Mar 14 2022

There is such a remarkable consistency in the iconography and idiom that Raul Isidro has pursued through 50 years of artmaking that the title of his latest exhibit of acrylic works, “Resonance,” at Galerie Joaquin Rockwell, seems anti-climactic if a tad predictable.

Always focusing on natural elements that he renders and evokes through the vigorous lines and colors of his robust abstraction, Isidro has become arguably the country’s most supreme “spiritualist,” if we mean by abstraction the classic sense of capturing in form and essence the spirit that lurks behind the natural and the material.

Movement in Green
Movement in Green

But a true-blue Samareño (he was born in Calbayog City, also the birthplace of the second Philippine cardinal, Julio Rosales), Isidro has avoided the occultism, new-age mysticism or theosophical rigmarole of the pioneer European abstractionists like Kandinsky, Mondrian and Malevich, by staying close to the homespun faith of his ancestors. He has expressed the moderate realism that animates his ancient faith in true folksy terms: “My paintings of rock formations and landscapes, although mostly imaginary, are reflective of my ‘provinciano’experience.”

Since 1968 when he held his first solo exhibit, Isidro (born 1943) has been grounding his artmaking on personal experience and natural elements. He takes the simplest features from natural landscapes—rocks, minerals, trees, wind, water—and depicts them in the barest dimensions but endowing them the flush of color and the vitality of kinesis. Isidro captures the soul that resides in the elements.

Orange Horizon III
Orange Horizon III

In rendering natural elements in their purest forms and freest shades, Isidro invites the viewers to an encounter not only with nature but also with their psyche. Isidro presents familiar elements and defamiliarizes them for viewers so that the latter are unsettled, compelled to adjust their senses and modify their perceptions, to make the leap of faith from the familiar to the unfamiliar, from lethargy and predictability to the adventitious and the adventurous.

Isidro feels that he has not yet exhausted the riches of nature. “There are so many objects about nature that I have to explore,” he tells this writer. “All of the colors are within nature's colors. Planet earth is so wide that it challenges my compositions. Hopefully I will make bigger abstracts. Since I started with my first one-man show at Solidaridad Gallery in 1969 my theme was always about Mother Earth. Mother nature has so many subject to compose. Even outer space is one open subject for abstraction.”

Yellow Wind
Yellow Wind

Come to think of it, the title of the exhibit could as well be another word for abstraction. If abstraction reveals the spirit behind the matter, then resonance echoes via sound or if you may, music (the purest art, according to John Ruskin), the reflection from a surface or vibration (psychological at that) from a natural element.

Like a musical composition, artistic abstraction captures the essence of things and enhances pure perception for the aesthetic. In the hands of a master abstractionist like Isidro, there’s pure perception of the universe, the natural becomes itself an aesthetic. “Resonance” is the preternatural throbbing behind the natural.

[“Resonance” is now running at Galerie Joaquin Rockwell (R3 Level, Power Plant Mall, Rockwell Center, Makati). Call +63 915 4145502 or email galeriejoaquin@gmail.com.]