By Hannah Jo Uy
Layout by Pinggot Zulueta
7 4.80. This was the grade Artemio Bermido Jr., known simply as ‘Artbermido,’ received during his bar examination— .20 shy of the number needed to become a full-fledged lawyer. “When I failed the Bar exams, it was very clear to me that my hands would be full of paint for the rest of my life,” he recalls. “Fate paved the way for me to be a full-time artist.”
His destiny of becoming the rising star in the minimalist visual art scene could be traced back to his early beginnings doodling and copying comic books characters. Though he began by painting human figures and realistic scenes, Artbermido said that eventually, he found abstraction to be the most expressive genre of all. Spontaneous in his approach, he creates paintings out of the spur of the moment, featuring bold colors and textures. When asked what draws him to minimalist design philosophy, Artbermido says that his deep fascination lies in the mystery behind a finished piece. “Minimal pieces are more than what they appear to be,” he says, describing his own paintings as “Not much to see, but a lot to tell.”
Indeed, within his visual narrative, the element of space has a starring role. “For me, the space is the stimulus that forms the element and makes it stand out,” he says. “People will always look at the element, but a select few will notice how hard the textures have been created, how serene or chaotic the colors behind, and how the space and the element are intertwined with each other.”
The underlying philosophy of ArtBermido’s work serves as an extension of his own personal outlook—one of utmost positivity. Calling his paintings Stimuli, each piece in his collection since the series began in 2004, holds significant meaning.”Each piece is a representation of an event, person, or circumstances that in one way or the other touched my life and shaped the way I am today,” he says.
Through his works, Artbermido pays tribute to the mentors, he dubbed as the ‘stimuli’ that contributed to his formation as an artist and as a person. Counting them off one by one, he says: “Nuestro taught me a lot of philosophies and theories; Jo Austria taught me to be spontaneous; Tamondong made me more competitive; Benitez helped me forget lawschool; Aviado explained to me Fibonacci; Lindslee introduced me to mixed media; Tanedo taught me to put heart on each piece; Albor gave me the cadmium red; Roxas showed to me what love was when painted on canvas; Carating introduced Liquitex to me; Jocson made me a deep thinker; Bose taught me to be more substantive; Lao inculcated silence and simplicity to my heart; Kimbs made me more sincere; Abulencia healed my greed for fame; Barrioquinto `exposed the pig in me; Cordova showed me what a humble heart meant; and Escora influenced me to dress up.”
In counting off the debts owed by way of lessons learned, Artbermido is a testament of how no artist lives in a vacuum. Similarly, his art, in its subtlety serves as a microcosm of his own human formation. “Each single element found within my pieces is the stimulus, and every stimulus is formed by its own stimuli represented by the textures and colors that surround it,” he says, explaining that the images were developed from an imaginary concept of reoccurring visions that included figures, movements, and various emotions. “Although these figures were formed out of serendipity,” he says, “there is a balance, however, disguised and concealed the figures may be, which leaves the viewer free to interpret the pieces on their own.”
Dynamic, without being aggressive, Artbermido evolves alongside his art, constantly reinventing his own creative process. The latest chapter within this development, still, could be enjoyed by audiences in his upcoming show at the Ayala Museum titled “Off the Greed: A Planned Obsolescence.”
As can be surmised by the title,the driving force of the collection is the artist’s social commentary and personal reflections on greed. “Greed pollutes our homes, corrupts our country, and destroys our world,” he says. “If we want change, it should emanate from within each and every one of us. We always complain about a lot of things we see, about these and those, but inside us, we cannot even define who we are when the lights are off.” Deeply contemplative and passionate, for Artbermido, life and art stand on three main pillars: fate, feet, and faith. Fate, when by flunking the bar, he found his true purpose. Feet, underscoring the importance he places on being “grounded, staying put, and embracing reality with a positive outlook.” And, faith, reflecting his belief in a higher being, whose hands guide him “in this platform called life.”
“Off the Greed: A Planned Obsolescence: A Solo Exhibition of Artbermido” will be on display from Feb. 21 to March 6 at ArtistSpace, Ayala Museum.