Modern Master Raul Isidro Is Young At He(art) At 80
Like a serene Zen master unruffled by advancing years, Raul Isidro is totally at home with the calmness and wisdom acquired through the years; yet he’s still excited to chart new courses in celebrating the world.
Like a serene Zen master unruffled by advancing years, Raul Isidro is totally at home with the calmness and wisdom acquired through the years; yet he’s still excited to chart new courses There’s a celebratory air to Raul Isidro’s newest art exhibit, “Resonance,” which is running at Galerie Joaquin in Powerplant Mall in Rockwell, Makati. This is because Isidro (born 1943) is marking this year his 80th birthday and his 55th year in art making.
In the age of tinsel careers and short shrifts, Isidro’s is an astounding achievement – nothing less than a reaffirmation of beauty as eternal and a transcendental that takes its place among the three permanent and lasting verities – unity, goodness, and truth.
It helps that Isidro is a “naturalist,” that is, his artmaking, particularly his abstraction, has been centered on evoking the spirit behind nature.
His abstract landscapes and minerals are literally “still lifes,” that is, they’re stock-still formations throbbing with life. This is the spirit animating the “Resonance” series: the abstract works are depictions of telluric formations resonating with life.
It is no wonder then that the titles of the works in the series denote or connote motion – “Blue Flight,” “Blue Wind,” “Breeze,” “Movement II,” “Movement in Green.” His abstracts try to capture invisible movement, to chart its course as it were, to capture motion in the concrete.
In a way, motion embodies Isidro’s entry to his octogenarian phase. Like a serene Zen master unruffled by advancing years, he’s totally at home with the calmness and wisdom acquired through the years; yet he’s still excited to chart new courses in celebrating the world.
From Calbayog to the art metropole
Although his father was a native of Baliwag, Bulacan, Isidro was born in Calbayog City in Samar where he spent his growing up years. His mother was a member of the prominent Gomez clan of Samar that has produced Sen. Tomas Gomez Sr. of the Philippine Commonwealth and Press Secretary Tomas “Buddy” Gomez III of the President Corazon C Aquino administration.
Both Samar and Bulacan would later figure in Isidro’s art works, such as his “Landscapes” exhibit in 2017, which made references to his Calbayog childhood, and “Senakulo,” his 2012 show at Crucible in which his abstract paintings, such as “Familia Sagrada,” evoked the colors and hubbub of Lent in Baliwag.
In the 1960’s Isidro went to the old College of Architecture and Fine Arts of the University of Santo Tomas to take up Advertising Arts, “as it was the most practical course to be able to find a job after graduation in college,” he told this writer.
“Our director then was Director Victorio Edades,” he said. “In Advertising my teachers then were Edades, Larry Tronco, Teofilo Montifar and several other teachers.” He graduated from UST in 1965.
He later also enrolled at the post-graduate fine arts program of the Philippine Women’s University (PWU), “a co-ed institution … to be able to join the annual Shell Art Competitions,” which was open only to students.
He won prizes not only from Shell but also from the Art Association of the Philippines.
“My contemporaries then were Ed Castrillo, Jaime de Guzman Rico Rival, Mon Orlina, Francis Yap, Raul Lebajo among the stablished artists,” he said.
Isidro later won the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) in 1979 and became fine arts dean of PWU.
Since the start, Isidro has been a “naturalist.”
“In my art career I pursued painting every day. I've been into ‘Mother Earth’ as my subject matter,” he said. “My ‘Earth’ series went on from the 60's to the present.”
His color palette, which distinguishes his works and because of which he has many collectors here and abroad, is governed by his naturalist bias.
“I have focused (on Mother Earth) as in this subject as you have unlimited colors in the sky from the different shades of blues to green, purple, red to orange,” he explained. “Mother Earth is based on my exposure to Mother Nature as I was raised in Calbayog City. Mother Earth as the basis of my art is based in the different moods of our sky and the waters (as could be seen) from the changing colors.”
For Isidro, nature and its many forms and manifestations is an inexhaustible subject for his intrepid, venturesome art.