By Kaye O’yek
Images by Pinggot Zulueta
After 30 solo exhibitions, the artists’ public has been spoiled with notable collections of paintings deserving acclaim. From his first show in 1973, collectors, peers, art enthusiasts, and critics have been bombarded with exceptional series of abstracts and successful exhibitions that bespeak the artist’s skillful play of color, form, and medium. Whether locally or abroad, Edwin Wilwayco has always shown that he delivers, pushing himself through critical concerns big and small, always raising the bar of his art practice and constantly testing the limits of what an idea may lead into.
It is therefore rather exhilarating to see Wilwayco challenge himself further by mounting two simultaneous exhibitions, “OctoGravitas” at Galerie Joaquin and “Luminans” at Galerie Stephanie starting Jan. 24.
“From the start, when I agreed that I’d be mounting two shows with the two galleries, I made it clear with myself and to them that it had to be distinct from each other. I would not push through with it if I could not achieve what I wanted,” Wilwayco said when asked about the complexity of having two shows at the same time.
The distinctions in idea and execution are easily recognizable in the pieces for the twin exhibitions. “OctoGravitas” has an image of the number eight in each piece—eight generally considered to be an auspicious number by numerologists and associated with prosperity. It is a number of perfection, and infinity, as the infinity symbol is represented by the figure eight lying on its side. In Buddhism, eight is a lucky number, possibly because of the eight petals of the lotus. It is a number of balance and cosmic order to the Egyptians, and the totality of the universe to the Chinese. Filipinos are familiar with the I Ching’s Bagua, which has eight sides, welcoming the lucky artifact into their homes and commercial structures for spatial harmony, especially with the advent of Chinese New Year.
The images are lent more substance, however, with the layering of vibrant colors, dynamic daubs, energy-infused lines, and patterned substrate inspired by repetitions in nature such as leopard spots, flower petals, and foliage. The paintings may remind one of Wilwayco’s works in previous shows, Fractals (2015) and Circles, On and On (2016), but the combination of subject and technique represents the further evolution of the artist’s continuous engagement in the full spectrum of the creative process.
“Luminans” is a play of light, with fluid whites and greys pitted against dark paint on canvas, metallic sheen capturing ambient lighting depending on the viewer’s angle. Brushstrokes may be reminiscent of the artist’s own River Circles (2010) and Benedictus (2005), but the studied application of hues and controlled manipulation of form evoke a gentler, more subdued phosphorescent flux. As the viewer’s eye follows the luminous power of each piece from a particular point of view, the viewer may experience different magnitudes of emotion and meaning, perhaps even enlightenment.
Born in Guimba, Nueva Ecija, Wilwayco is now based in Providence, Rhode Island. He first studied at the Continental School of Design Studies in Los Angeles, and then graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in Advertising Arts with a minor in Painting from the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts. Valuable mentorship by Jose Joya and Constancio Bernardo turned his artistic path to abstraction, and this led him to scholarships to the British Council in England in 1982, and the West Surrey College of Art and Design in Farnham, England.
Since he was cited with his first Merit Award in the Shell On-the-Spot Painting Contest in 1970, Wilwayco has been conferred multiple distinctions in the visual arts, including a grant from the Italian Government Scholarship for Painting in 1982. In 1994, he was one of the Cultural Center of the Philippines Thirteen Artists Awardees. His works have appeared in various publications, with selected pieces acquired by the Singapore National Museum of Art and other notable institutions.
An artist reception for “OctoGravitas” and “Luminans” will be held on Jan. 24, Tuesday, at 6 p.m. at the pop-up gallery of 8 Rockwell, Makati.
For inquiries on “OctoGravitas,” 63 932 723 9418; email@example.com; For “Luminans,” 02 709 1488; inquiry.galeriestephanie@gmail .com