The term gathering point can mean several things but it always turns out to be something good. It’s a meeting place, a stomping ground or a hangout. For four friends who hail from Angono, one of the country’s top art capitals, it’s the title of their ongoing group show at ARTablado at Robinsons Galleria as well as a reunion and a chance for them to showcase their artistry to a wider audience.
Jovito Andres, Edberth Roan, William Ner and Irwin Tolentino all grew up in the town of Angono, roughly 30 kilometers east of Manila. A small fishing village along Laguna de Bay in the province of Rizal, it has a laidback vibe that might have helped to cultivate dozens of artists and creatives.
The four featured artists were mentored by Angono native and esteemed visual artist Nemi Miranda who is credited with the art style called Imaginative Figurism. Despite this, all four went on to develop their respective art styles.
Jovito and Edberth were elementary school classmates and became fast friends because of their shared love for art.
“We met William at art club in high school and remained friends all the way to college where we took up Fine Arts at the University of Santo Tomas,” Jovito said. They later met Irwin at Angono Ateliers, the art group where they were all active members, he added.
“We had our own groups of friends but since we all were passionate about making art, we were able to form strong bonds with one another,” Jovito said.
Time passed and William and Irwin moved to the United States while Edberth transferred and busied himself with other pursuits. Only Jovito remained in Angono where he honed a style of painting that hews to traditional Filipino values of family.
Using oil paints on canvas or wood panels, or pastels on paper, Jovito’s idealized depictions include a family unit complete with tatay, nanay and bunso as well as separate paintings of Mother and child, and even a Father and child. The latter features a father with his back turned to the viewer and carrying his young son who is clutching a “lato lato”—a popular noisemaker that was the toy craze earlier this year.
Edberth prefers working with charcoal or colored pencils to bring out the different tonal values of shadows and light on paper. Many of his drawings are of orchids, lily pads and water lilies seen from above, the plants’ surfaces dotted with beads of moisture. His koi series is an archetype invitation to explore the natural world with an elevated ecological consciousness. Edberth also works with mixed media using intricate metalwork, gilded fibers, and other unusual everyday objects to produce unique pieces.
Using oil paints on Masonite board or canvas, William creates realistic and surreal paintings that incorporate disparate elements like Lego bricks, a Pinocchio puppet, bunched-up fabric, and tiny storm clouds.
“Excruciate” is a painful closeup of what viewers might assume to be Christ’s twisted feet on the cross. William expresses his truth with a powerful blend of surreal elements and bold, representational imagery that beckons viewers to take a closer look.
The fourth featured artist, Irwin Tolentino, creates abstract expressionist pieces that consist of acrylic paints and ink on watercolor paper. He employs action-packed paint splashes, organic drizzles, vivid color smears, and other texture-altering techniques to bring his pieces to life.
“Although the four of us seldom get together, our friendship is still there. In fact, we still manage to joke around with each other given the ease of communicating nowadays,” Jovito said.
“Gathering Point” is a way for the four friends to touch base once again, this time at ARTablado, a setting that—for several years now—has been a staunch supporter of Philippine creativity. The exhibit at ARTablado at Robinsons Galleria runs until November 30.