ABSTRACT paintings hold a multitude of meanings depending on the beholder, so instead of looking for meaning, one way to connect to the art work is to look at and appreciate the labor behind the creation.
For example, take a look at the 12 acrylic paintings in Gary Custodio’s exhibit Imagine, which is on view at the Avellana Art Gallery along Harrison St., Pasay City until Jan. 12. The paintings are a showcase of his fascination with grids, lines, and architecture. Inspired not by Cubism but by the Russian Constructivism movement, his works are studies in geometry. The 12 works follow the same light color scheme of yellow, green, blue, and purple in varying saturations.
To the untrained eye, or for the people who are used to seeing figures and outright meanings, the artist’s works look simple, easy to do, and the same. But then again, coherence is a factor when putting up an exhibition, isn’t it?
Consistency, and then there are also the effort and concept.
“The style is the binder, ’eto naman talaga ’yung work ko (this is really my work), but it is about the subject. For this exhibit, Imagine, my idea behind it is there’s an unfolded origami and then you’ll imagine what the figure was before it was unfolded into a flat canvas,” he told BusinessWorld at the sidelines of his exhibit opening on Dec. 1.
What the figures could be depend on your imagination. They could be a cat, a bag, a home, a notebook, or a castle.
While the 12 works look almost the same, they aren’t. “I have studies, so studies pa lang I already have comparison and I worked them out. I didn’t want to be monotonous, so my solution was the combination of three different canvas sizes, 4×4, 4×2, 2×4 to break the sequence,” he said.
Each work takes a long time to finish, from conceptualization and actual painting to waiting for the paint to dry.
The color combinations are also thought out. “The blues are combinations of five different blues, lahat yun puro (all of them are) product and not fresh color. No blue color is the same, but they come from different colors. From a distance, they may all look the same, but they are different because they are products of blended colors, and you cannot a repeat a color mixture,” he said.
Imagine’s colors may be minimalist but there’s a tedious process behind the works. Mr. Custodio said he used multiple layers to achieve the gradients of color. There were works where he used five layers of paint, while some have 12 to 15 layers. “Hindi mo makikitang makapal, pero madami siya talagang patong (You will not see that it’s thick, but in reality there are lots of layers),” he said.
Before Imagine, his works used darker colors, like gray and black. “The Russian discipline was created after the war so it’s dark, [but I guess my style] evolved, because Imagine is lighter, so it’s really a process of evolving [as an artist].”
He likened an artist’s style to his or her penmanship. “Style is like handwriting, they’re the same, but ang dapat makita (but what should be seen) is the intention, the presentation of the idea.”
While he’s already comfortable with his signature style, Mr. Custodio evolves as a creator through “continuous learning, reinventing in terms of materials, more research… it’s more on the technical side and in terms of output, it’s the idea.”
A graduate of Fine Arts, major in Painting, from the University of Santo Tomas, Mr. Custodio is from Aklan where he is also based. But he moves back and forth between the province and Metro Manila to create, do shows, and think of new concepts and ideas.
Kasi dapat gumagalaw ka, nag-iisip, kasi kung hindi patay ka na, stagnant ka na. Nakakapagod mag-isip ng concept, (You should move and think, because if you don’t then you’re dead, you’re stagnant. The most difficult part is to think of a concept,)” said the artist, a winner of the GSIS Art Competition in 2011 and Tanaw, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Art Competition in 2014.
For his current show, he lets the looker come up with a concrete idea. “To use your imagination, think, ano ba ito (what is this)? It’s not really a puzzle, but it’s fun. My ideas was like problem solving. [As the artist who created it] I already solved it. It’s now the audience’s turn. It’s like a game,” he said. — Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman