In Pintô Museum Exhibit, Artist Philipp Ines Calls For Environmental ‘Heroes’
From each canvas is planted the seed of wild jungle outgrowth that will provide the repair and snapback of our critically afflicted environment.
In “A Call for Heroes,” Philipp Ines’s new exhibit at Pintô Art Museum, one is surprised, even shocked, at the sight of oil-on-canvas works depicting tropical jungle fantasy scenes in celebratory colors that are a radical departure from his previous works such as “Balik sa Simula at Hinaharap,” a humorous and even fond depiction of the COVID-19 lockdown lifestyle, and “Encounter with the Masters,” a scathing series of paintings on Filipino piety.
Titled “A Call for Heroes,” Ines’ latest series does not celebrate patriotism or glorify heroics; they instead provide dream images of paradise, an ecological utopia where there’s perfect balance between flora and fauna, between Elysium and man.
Ines provides the utopian vision as a clarion call for new heroes to emerge and accept the challenge of rescuing a severely endangered habitat. In one particularly powerful painting, Jose Rizal and the other ilustrados and hijos de pais (sons of the nation) strike their patriotic poses while behind them are Marcela Agoncillo and other women helping her make the Philippine tricolor: the figures are attired in the rich vegetation of the country. Ines makes a powerful point: what the country needs now are men and women who will fight the despoliation of the environment.
The human figures sport a Philipp Ines iconography: their eyes and mouth are plastered with pieces of paper on which those body parts are drawn: a self-reflexive device that connotes how human expression is both organic and artifice, how artistic expression, however plastic, proceeds from an organic source. In this case, how artistic expression is an outgrowth of nature, which is in danger of annihilation exactly by human artifice such as industry and exploitation.
Not that human industry is human artifice that should be rejected. In “Abel ni Lilang,” indigenous weaves made from a machine cobbled out of the wood of the tropical forest, sport the colors of Philippine blooms and herbage.
Clarity of form, lush yet precise detailing, and fresh and harmonious colors characterize Ines’ new works. The viewer will be astounded by the exuberance of the pictures, yet be calmed by its serenity. Around the weaver’s atelier are the looms that display their patterns of cosmic geometry, woven from the dreams of their women dream weavers.
But what really distinguishes the paintings is their pictorial audacity. The riot lushness of the flora is contrasted with the human figure often rendered in all their earthiness and with their silhouettes almost draping the jungle-like surroundings.
The pictorial boldness of the paintings is such that the wild and rice tropical verdure threatens to extend their teeming abundance out of the picture frame, an environmental riot if there was one. Which should show that Philipp Ines’s “A Call for Heroes” is protest art on behalf of the environment of the most authentically organic sort. From each canvas is planted the seed of wild jungle outgrowth that will provide the repair and snapback of our critically afflicted environment.