Abstractionist Jose Ferdinand ‘Joy’ M. Rojas II once again regales art aficionados with his trademark bold strokes of color and texture across canvas while at the same time offering artworks that trend in a bold new direction in his third solo exhibit, ‘Res Judicata.’
The show’s title holds several layers of meaning: that of the term itself, and it refers to the artist’s profession as a lawyer as well as the name of one of his racehorses.
In this exhibit, Rojas displays a fine sense of balance between restraint and abandon, between bold swathes of metallic colors and rough, angular striations that provide extreme texture across the surface of his canvases.
He shows fearlessness in exploring new territory. In a first for Rojas, he created screen dividers covered with retro images and florals that variously evoke our nation’s past as well as the artist’s travels and artistic inspirations.
Rojas is unafraid to play with color and symmetry. ‘Res Judicata’ is divided into three for three-quarters of its height; the final quarter bifurcates the canvas horizontally. Each section is painted a slightly different but harmonious color. Cool grays and silver predominate, with one section a warm gray that is almost umber, providing striking contrast amid a somber mood.
Similarly, ‘Winter Dreams’ is mostly steel gray and industrial white, the bleakness relieved by two restrained strokes of red, crossed by equally carefully placed runnels of black and white.
In contrast, ‘Sunset at Malecon, Havana’ is a bright golden brown tempered with ash. A splash of orange evokes the sun, and slashes of yellow green bring to mind young leaves in spring.
‘Confetti 8’ is freer and looser, its ground of blues and purples undulating in random gradations across the surface, a rent of darker blue a seeming portal through which to peer as bright pink strokes draw the eye in.
Rojas breaks a new personal artistic ground with his ‘Time After Time’ series, mixed media panels covered with old maps and images from a Philippine past—the Love Bus, Rizal and other heroes, old buildings in Manila (among them the Cinerama theater owned by the Roman and Rojas families), vintage ads for Coke—all provoking a sense of nostalgia.
The artist turns to another of his design inspirations in his quadriptych ‘Flowers of Christian Dior’, an hommage to the 2017 Christian Dior Anniversary Exhibit in Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris. Tulips, tea roses, lilies, and other florals are strewn luxuriously across a ground of eau-de-Nil and blush pink.
Rojas’s third show points to his flourishing maturity as an artist and continuous development of mastery over technique and narrative.
‘Res Judicata’ runs from April 14 to 30 at the Pinto Art Museum, Antipolo City.
Instituto Cervantes, the cultural arm of the Embassy of Spain, will be staging its annual celebration of Dia del Libro (International Book Day) on April 27 at Ayala Triangle, starting at 10:00 a.m.
Bookstores and publishing houses will be offering their wares at a discount, and, in the Spanish tradition, book buyers will be given a rose.
Instituto Cervantes will also be giving out hundreds of books for free upon purchase of a shirt featuring an excerpt from a Spanish poem.
Among the interesting cultural activities are a recital of national hero Jose Rizal’s ‘Mi Ultimo Adios,’ with 70 people each reading one line from the poem. The recitations will be recorded, and the final edited video will be shown on the Instituto Cervantes Manila website and social media pages.
Likewise, the novel ‘Don Quijote’ will be rewritten by hand by volunteers.
‘Trese’ fans will be delighted to know that a new volume of the comics saga will be launched at the event.
Restaurants will provide Spanish fare, Instituto Cervantes will hold a free Spanish demo class, and for the kiddies, there will be storytelling, games, and coloring sessions.
The night will be enlivened by ‘Posporos,’ a concert of Filipino and Spanish musicians – our homegrown The Late Isabel, an art rock band, and Vulk, a Basque punk band from Bilbao.
••• “Politicians don’t bring people together. Artists do.” ~ Richard Daley, Former Mayor of Chicago / FB and Twitter: @DrJennyO