By HANNAH JO UY
Layout By PINGGOT ZULUETA
Reflecting on his failed attempt to run away from home when he was ten years old, Rosscapili asked, “What if?” What if he didn’t grow up amid the violence and hardships in Tondo, all of which fortified his commitment to create beauty amid chaos? Would he still be an artist? The thought came during his 60th birthday, on March 6, where Rosscapili proved that he shows no sign of slowing down.
Known to be one of the most prolific artists of the generation, he continues to exude enthusiasm and creativity in his mission to commemorate nature’s beauty, no matter how fleeting, through flawless orchestration of color.
The notoriously productive artist, however, is facing perhaps his most challenging year yet, with a 2019 line-up that includes three solo exhibitions capped off with a retrospective and the launch of a coffee table book.
The first show, entitled Rainbow in Bloom is already a feat in itself, being a simultaneous solo show. An offshoot of Rosscapili’s butterfly series in painting, sculpture and relief forms, the collection showcases contemplations on the transient quality of nature and how it parallels the creation and consumption of art.
Similar to the butterfly’s short life-span, the pieces he toiled over have come into the world and gone to his collectors, out of his reach. “With this introspection, the spirit of rainbow spoke to me,” he said. “Like butterflies, a rainbow is ephemeral. Both have the power to ignite the senses of a viewer.” A celebration of life, the collection is representative of the journey of discovery which the artist embarked on and invited audiences to take part in by reveling in the joy of being in the present state.
The proximity of The Saturday Group Gallery and Gallery Big inspired Rosscapili to hold a simultaneous show as only a partition wall separating both spaces. As such, he endeavored to create an experience by developing a visual narrative through the exceptional curation, with the bloom of the rainbow introduced through works in canvas in the former space, and its spirit celebrated through works on paper in the latter gallery.
The medium of choice is also a vital part of the narrative, with Rosscapili describing watercolor on paper as challenging but immensely intimate. “I stopped watercolor for a while,” he explained, “because for me, it is a ritual to engage yourself with this temperamental medium, unlike acrylic on canvas which I am very familiar with. I’m exerting a lot of pre-visualization before I dip my wide Chinese brush onto the color… Once I started working, there’s no turning back but to come up with an image where my soul leads me.” Rosscapili’s fearless approach in experimenting with mediums, however, is nothing new.
A fact that will be showcased in his upcoming show at The Crucible where he will exhibit both paintings and sculptures that mimic the fluidity of his style. “I dream someday to transform the sculpture in bigger spaces producing environmental public pieces,” he shared. “In a way, those I’m going to show are just maquettes.” The next show at Secret Fresh further explores Rosscapili’s range, both technically and conceptually, celebrating nostalgia and showcasing the artist’s playfulness, before a major retrospective to be unveiled at Gallery C of Conrad Manila.
Forty years in production, the retrospective will showcase works from his early years as an artist in the 1970s to the present. The show will serve as an exposition of the different facets of Rosscapili’s artistic personality, already lightly explored in previous shows. Strict about not repeating or duplicating pieces, the artist shared that he often segregates areas across two studio spaces, allowing him to focus on one subject matter at a time while waiting for other pieces to dry. In view of his unshakable work ethic, Rosscapili simply revels in his craft. “I paint every day except Sunday, which I fully give to my family,” he said. “Even if I don’t have a scheduled show, I still paint.
Taking away painting from me is like taking away oxygen. ” Despite his immense success over the years, Rosscapili still labels himself as a “struggling artist.” “But the struggle in me doesn’t mean I don’t live by my art, nor no one buys my work,” he explained. “I have to struggle so that I won’t be complacent even though I passed the mid-career dilemma which other artists are pursuing to pass. Although, I’m senior and 60 years old already, I still have to struggle to reinvent and plan out ahead my course of action for another 20 years.”
As for one of the most important lessons that Rosscapili would like to pass on to the new generation of artist, he said: “Keep a record of all your accomplishment and introspect all shortcomings and do some correcting. In every shows try not to sell at least two works and keep for future retrospection and for your family’s legacy and estate. It is better to chronicle your own life and revolve around your own story so you can paint and document this. You are unique at walakang kaparehas, so please avoid as much as possible copying other artist’s work and life.”
Rosscapili’s Rainbow in Bloom will hold its opening cocktails on March 16, Saturday at 6pm. Exhibit runs until March 29, 2019.