Carlo Magno’s abstractions
By Jack Teotico
CARLO Magno opens today his exhibit “Firm Foundation.” After 25 years of painting professionally, this should be a milestone. With this his 20th one-man show, Carlo Magno has paid his dues, done his time and today reaps the whirlwind of his efforts. A bountiful harvest it proves to be.
Although the actual painting for a living started a good 25 years ago, Magno’s interest in art started way before that. It started when he was 12 when he remembers making his first landscape drawings. In college, he first enrolled in architecture before shifting to music but it was only when he settled on fine arts and enrolled at the Philippine Women’s University in 1978 that he truly found his calling.
Magno found himself so engrossed in the world of art that he started organizing several group shows and even headed his own art group called LIKARLA, a group of realist painters. Several awards came next including the grand prize at the Hispanidad Art Center as well as the first prize in a YMCA-sponsored art competition for his painting “Bayanihan.”
Magno recalls being inspired by Vermeer’s art. He found himself painting interiors of old houses and windows. Other influences were Richard Estes and Winslow Homer, who inspired him to do landscapes. From the early 80’s, Magno’s work never failed to elicit praises for its creative imagery and clarity. Through the years he has painted diverse subjects including ancestral homes, churchyards, interiors, vistas, and cathedral altars and bell towers. The works were usually highlighted by day to day objects – a batibot chair, a fountain in a churchyard, a cart or even a pail – that when transformed by the artist’s creative brush became symbols of nostalgia and romanticism.
The works have undeniably touched his countless viewers and collectors and looking back, one can only agree with an art critic who in the 80’s wrote that this is because Magno’s works successfully capture “a time, a day, a season, an emotion or an era.” They are a “mosaic of recollection and retrospectives.” Other critics and peers acknowledging his technique referred to him as a “master of light.”
In 2003, when Carlo Magno staged his 15th one-man show aptly titled “Transformation,” he completely went into a new direction. He decided to explore the world of abstract art. The 30 works he exhibited were characterized by rich, exuberant colors highlighted by the variety of textures and techniques he had accumulated through the years. Magno himself saw the leap from figuration or representational art into the world of abstraction as a logical, albeit highly exciting development. “I find it very exciting because abstract art is so free-flowing,” he notes.
What he did, however, was bring with him into the world of abstraction, elements he picked up while doing realism. These include but not limited to his use of direct and indirect lighting, contrast, composition, harmony, the creative use of the horizon although these were now rendered in abstract forms as well as the intensity of his light sources in his paintings.
For that initial show on abstract art, Magno was strongly influenced by the strong and bold textures of gestural abstractionism as expounded upon by Spanish artists Antonio Tapiez, Luis Feito and Manolo Millares. Since that time in 2003, when Magno made the difficult yet epochal transition from figuration to abstraction, he has had five sold-out solo exhibitions which prove his phenomenal success in abstraction. His oeuvre has been fast evolving though. He has taken elements of gestural abstractionism of Japanese artists the likes of Kenzo Okada and Saito and infused his own spiritual convictions.
This is now the point, in which Magno presents to his public this show dubbed as “Firm Foundation,” which runs until November 20. It will feature 40 works done by the artist over the past 16 months. It is a welcome sequel to his last major show titled “On Higher Ground” which opened successfully in two galleries in June last year which were critical and commercial successes with the works eventually being sold out.
“Firm Foundation” firmly establishes Magno in the realm of today’s major abstract artists. In this show, what he notably does is achieve an even deeper sense of spirituality. The canvases are less of gestural abstractionism he started with five years ago and are now more meditative in form and substance. The major works for this show are the 42” x 72” “Joyful Heart,” the 48” x 60” “Hint of Gold,” the 36” x 48” “Bread of Life,” the 30” x 60” “Blaze of Glory,” and the 48” x 48” “Shield of Faith.”
Galerie Joaquin is located at 371 P. Guevarra St., cor. Montessori Lane, Addition Hills, San Juan, Metro Manila. For details, call 723 9253 or 723 9418 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or log on to www.galeriejoaquin.com.
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