MARK ANDY GARCIA: RECENT WORKS. June 10 - 22, 2015 -- Ayala Museum

In Praise of the Loaded, Sympathetic Brush

by Carlomar Arcangel Daoana

“In the Time of Painting,” one of the pieces in Recent Works, Mark Andy Garcia’s 13th solo show exhibited at the Ayala Museum, we see a half-naked man in a posture of absolute repose. Seated on a couch, he has his arms crossed across his chest, his eyes closed. The scene—a domestic interior—is explosive with a confetti of brushstrokes, evoked through a rapid-fire succession of brief, articulate gestures as well as wide and thick actions of painterly sweeps. His is a lyrical figuration quite unlike any in the visual arts scene, a confirmation of mastery over the loaded brush, whose possibilities of expressiveness, as Garcia proves, have not been entirely exhausted. 

For Garcia, in this first show after being proclaimed as one of this year’s recipients of the prestigious and career-defining Thirteen CCP Artists Awards, painting has not reached a stasis, that it still a relevant and valid form of inquiry into contemporary life, that it still provides a powerful—even transcendent—access into imagination and the human heart. 

In his works, we see a lush, mottled world where time seems to have stopped but remains resplendent with movement (the field of flowers in the work “New Every Morning,” for instance, bristles with the energy of furious, upward growth) and whose familiarity (a portrait of a couple, a man situated within the natural world) is refreshed and made new by the artist’s sure-footed and intuitive strokes that accrue, coalesce and finally organize into snapshots of personal vision inflected with a rustic and homegrown sensibility. In each painting, technique and temperament meet and we see what the artist thinks precious enough to be rendered and yes, immortalized: simple life, countryside, open spaces, notions of family and camaraderie.

It is easy enough to miss his figures in our rapturous scrutiny of those commas of color, in our delight of his close-to-abstraction style, but to not pay enough attention to them is to overlook their common nobility, dignity and humor. In the work, “Paula Beside the Piano,” we are given what the title suggests and more: a connection with the woman in the portrait whom the artist has bothered to name, a glimpse into her life and what she considers important to her (her upright piano and the music that it unspools; should we be mistaken, the actual word, “Piano,” sits beside a clutch of flowers), and an appreciation towards her composure and how she has fixed herself for this moment of portraiture: her well-combed, parted hair, her lips daubed with tint, her favorite polka-dotted dress. It is a work suffused with plainspoken tenderness.

In this post-modern times of irony and what-you-see-is-not-what-it-is, Garcia’s emphasis on common folks (they are well-delineated on the picture plane and don’t bleed into their environment) and what they hold dear (a tryst in the forest, a pet dog, a toy sword) restores our belief in painting as an agency of faith in the dailiness of living and the forms of respite we cultivate against the dark hours. Within a whirlwind of well-timed gestures, his works vibrate with ennobling presence, revealing the miraculous in the ordinary and the artist’s sympathetic eye on our common humanity.

The Hiding Place, oil on canvas, 72x72in - 2015

The Firetree's Came to Life, oil on canvas, 48x48in - 2015

In The Time of Painting, oil on canvas, 48x48in - 2015

The Sword of the Spirit , oil on canvas, 48x48in - 2015

Paula Beside The Piano, oil on canvas, 48x48in - 2015

New Every Morning, oil on canvas, 60x48in - 2015

Ten Years from Now, oil on canvas, 54x54in - 2015