by KRISTOFER PURNELL
Twenty-two abstract paintings fill the lobby of Herald Suites in Makati, all of them with one thing in common (apart from being made by the same artist, of course) and their titles say it all—Maroca Walls, Of Walls and Golden Memories, Walls of Bonifacio. Red Mansueto’s latest one man show “Perceptions and Abstractions” is all about walls, and not just the vertical structures that keep buildings up, even the perceived walls that literally surround a person be it mentally, socially, and emotionally.
“Walls are not just physical, these walls are also of emotions and environment,” Red tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “I base my paintings on a philosophy. Now my series is about walls—physical walls and walls of people living in the community, particularly the marginalized. I’m very emotional about how the poor are living in this material world, especially now that they are targeted… kawawa (unfortunate).”
Not all the paintings on display were made specifically for the exhibit. Some of them were lying around in Red’s house. “I have artworks in the house, just waiting for exhibition. I just keep on painting,” admits the artist. “Because some of them can’t fit in the house anymore, I bring them to other friends’ houses or venues like furniture shops.”
Red has been in the art scene for four decades now and he his works have been exhibited all around the country like in Davao, Boracay, and his home province of Cebu. It helps that he himself is fond of organizing art shows, which is why it was easy for “Perceptions and Abstractions” to find a home at Herald Suites.
“I used to exhibit here before, a long time ago. I used to have exhibitions here, one-man shows, group shows,” says Red, even sharing how his talent took him to Washington D.C. for an artist group based there, and how his works have gone around galleries, museums, and malls in Manila.
Having a philosophy in making art has been a great inspiration for Red over the years, whose work dates back to the Martial Law years and his paintings were influenced by political factors. “Art, in general, is an expression of what an artist is feeling,” he says. “Most of my paintings are on the environment, on ecological factors, because of the things happening right now like climate change. I’m very emotional about that.”
He even admits that painters are very—or are supposed to be—selfish. “They only think of what they feel. When you paint, you paint about what you feel, not about what other people feel,” Red explains. “You’re not supposed to be directed or influenced.”
For Red, it all boils down to how one expresses oneself, which makes art more personal. And that is exactly how he has built his walls, which he sees as markers and starting lines for a much bigger journey, one that he has known for a long time and will continue to cross until those who gaze upon his paintings—and he himself—leap over their own personal walls.