THE PAINTER. April 24, 2016 -- Secret Fresh Gallery

*Music, film and photography by Rogelio Castillo II

In The Painter, A Solemn Self-Examination

by Carlomar Arcangel Daoana

In The Painter, Mark Andy Garcia’s 14th solo exhibition and his first since winning the Thirteen CCP Artists Award, what is being reckoned with is the act of painting itself, of how an artist, as he confronts the empty field that is the canvas, summons the different strands that constitute his life: direct experiences, observations, notions of faith and the passage of time.

Hence, the act of creation doesn’t transpire only when the artist touches brush to the canvas, when the first dabs of paint are applied. It’s right there when the artist daydreams, deliberates upon an image on his mind, attempts to capture thunderbolts of vision or shards of feeling. The artist’s silence when he is in front of the canvas, brush and easel in hand, belies the tremendous force that he calls forth to make the invisible visible.

Certainly, painting is not merely a translation of observed reality, as it creates its own reality, as can be gleaned in the paintings in the exhibition whose frenetic brushstrokes, bristling hues, and many-layered possibilities constitute a world of their own. This is the world that we have come to know through the works of Garcia: a lush, mottled creation, where figure and ground share the same intensity, where time seems to stop but continues to vibrate, where every dash of color is imbued with significance.

But despite the near abstract depiction of this world—the expressionistic fervor a signature component of the artist’s style—a narrative remains discernible. In Charity, for instance, a couple in their old age look at a canvas, bound by affection. While we, as viewers, don’t share what they are looking at, we know the subject matter: a blaze of sunflowers whose three heads seem laden with agency.

A celebration of the future, the work is an affirmation of faith on painting’s enduring qualities—its power of representation—as well as a homage to Garcia’s artistic heroes: from Rembrandt to Van Gogh. Painting for Garcia remains as a solemn exercise in self-examination, uniting the mind, the heart, and the hand to shine a light on conscience and personal belief, mark the eternal verities, and capture the shades and tones that make human happiness possible in the here and now. 

"The Painter" oil on canvas, 48x60 inches - 2016

"Summer" oil on canvas, 48x48 inches - 2016

"Charity" oil on canvas, 48x60 inches - 2016

"The Wind" oil on canvas, 48x36 inches - 2016

"Different Shade of Blue" oil on canvas, 48x48 inches - 2016