In his first solo exhibition, Manempet Ti La, Kenver Sarmiento Resuello comes home to the landscapes of his hometown, depicting them in a suite of paintings that invites the eye to roam expansive nature lit by the fiery colors of a setting sun.
The hometown is San Carlos, but the artist’s attention includes Mangatarem, Binmaley, and Lingayen—towns and cities of Pangasinan gifted with undulating mountains. “There’s a need to showcase the beauty of Pangasinan,” states the artist.
The beauty of the province is a late revelation. Though Resuello was born and spent his formative years in the province north of Metro Manila, “it was only up until now that I got to appreciate everything,” he says. “You’re so caught up growing up and figuring things out for yourself; you never have the chance to actually sit and bask in the beauty of your hometown.”
Now residing and practicing his medical profession in Pangasinan, Resuello began painting a couple of views earnestly, usually from a photograph he had taken as visual reference. As he immersed himself in the task of paying attention to the natural wonder around him, the tentative attempts at painting became an almost full-fledged devotion. Because of the lockdown, the artist had the time to travel around and rediscover the province and vowed to translate what he saw onto the canvas.
The result is not just a literal translation of the scene but one that is amplified and infused with memory, affection, and emotive power so much so that the landscapes become a tapestry of highly saturated colors, revealing shifts of light and shadow, sharply contouring the outlines of the mountains, the columns of trees, the shards of grass. The expressive quality of the works conveys the ardor of the one witnessing the view. In the process of painting it, the artist also praises it.
This sense of intensification is conveyed not just on the land features but the sky as well. It is a well-lit splendor, in which the rays of a usually setting sun imbues clouds, from billowing cumulus to feathery cirrus, whose dazzling formations appear to be mirroring the landscapes below. Charged with atmospheric phenomena, the sky is not a mere background but an active presence in these paintings—a depiction possibly nurtured by the many years the artist had spent being in the skies as a flight attendant.
While the landscape is uninterrupted by human habitation and presence, it’s undeniable that the point of view is a singular sensibility, either being enveloped by the natural world or surveying the scene from a distance, respecting the expansiveness of a culminating day that encourages mindfulness and relaxation. “Sunset, for most people, would signal that the day has ended, and hopefully one has spent it well, done enough work; you’ve been productive and served a purpose,” the artist states. “It’s a signal to go home and finally rest after all the hard work.”
Manempet Ti La is an invitation not only to enjoy and luxuriate in the beauty of nature, but to appreciate it through the lens of one’s hometown, through which one’s personal history and context is amplified, so the relationship with the scenery becomes personal, deeply-felt, and invested with gratitude. Beauty is not some remote occurrence but readily appears in one’s vicinity—accessible and available to anyone who takes time to sit back and bask in its generous light.
[Manempet Ti La is ongoing up to the last week of October at the Ilustrado Room 2 of Gallery 7, Pinto Art Museum.]