Mystical Realm by Gilbert Semillano

Arts and Culture

Galerie Stephanie

183 E. Rodriguez Jr. Ave., Libis, Quezon City
Metro Manila, Philippines

  • 31
    12:00 AM
    12:00 AM

About the Event

What is it like to visit a strange new world? What kinds of beings will you meet? What kind of landscape will you see in the distance? And what kind of stories will you hear?

When he was a young boy, Gilbert Semillano was struck with a high fever. In a delirious state, the fever induced Caravaggian visions of grotesqueries and bizarre landscapes in an entirely different world that he never forgot. Recovering from that fever, Semillano has since grown up and gone on to become an all-encompassing creative.

He has established a career as a Creative Director for trans-multinational advertising giant Lowe Kuwait. But Semillano never forgot that world he visited, launching a burgeoning visual art practice based on what he saw when he was a boy. By combining and blending the imagery with the sort of fast-paced populism of advertising, he has forged a oeuvre of the weirdly fantastic--an alluring cocktail that draws inspiration from otherworldly imagery of the Late Gothic style and concerns of the 15th century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch and combines it with the aesthetics of director Tim Burton. Now an international artist of growing stature, Semillano brings his unique brand of art to his hometown of Manila.

Like Bosch, Semillano’s works reveal a creative, highly inventive style characterized by a similar boldness and confident imagination. But the similarities end there. In "Mystical Realm," Gilbert Semillano invites people to step into his own world, filled with jolting creatures and extraordinary sceneries that defy conventions. His art is firmly rooted in a narrative approach that is deeply personal, involving a process that taps into the depths of his subconscious to evoke imagery that is layered in a multitude of readings and sourced from a variety of literary and cultural tropes. From this, he populates his creatures’ world with a landscape culled from the inner recesses of his imagination.

It is a jarring depiction of a fantasy that nevertheless draws his viewers in through a considered and highly-nuanced philosophy. Semillano does this with great technique, crafting the imagery with a highly skilled approach. It is tempting to think that Semillano's works are merely humorous, albeit a bit laced with a modicum of morbidity, reflections of his own personal history.

But looking beyond that, one will find his oeuvre as more aligned to a Mannerist's fixation with allegory. Indeed, there are many similarities between, say, Semillano's "Fragile Sensibilities I," with the almost-Catholic allusion to the Sacred Heart, and Caravaggio's "Amor Vincit Omnia," and the image of cupid over all human endeavors.

Gilbert Semillano will hold his first Manila exhibition at Galerie Stephanie in Libis, Quezon City from July 31 to August 14. Entitled "Mystical Realm," the exhibition shows Semillano at his finest, creating the kinds of jaw-dropping dream-like imagery that never fails to fascinate.

A recognized artist in the Middle East, Gilbert Semillano has won several art competitions--including the Grand Prize of the 2007 ASEAN Art Competition in Kuwait, the Grand Prize of the 2008 Toyota Art Edge Competition, and 1st Prize at the 2008 Easter Telecoms Art Competition. Already an established and well-known artist abroad, with exhibitions at distinguished art spaces in Kuwait, Semillano's exhibition at Galerie Stephanie will be his first in the Philippines. More than a homecoming, this exhibition represents the heralding of a triumphant international artist with a new direction the Philippine art scene will do well to recognize.

BY DUffie Husena Osental

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