Philippine folk art plays an important role in the development of the country’s visual art scene. With motifs and compositions that are more attuned to indigenous sensibilities, folk art has spurned the creation of a unique Philippine identity that strongly resonated among the pioneers of Philippine art, especially within a post-colonial framework seeking to unearth core Philippine values.
Folk art motifs recall to a simpler time, exploring the belief systems of native communities and in turn laying the foundation towards a ‘National’ art - around which has revolved the nuances of Academic, Modern, and Contemporary art practices.
It is this conceptual framework that drives the visual arts practice of Aljo Pingol. Deceptively naïf in his choice of subject, Pingol is in truth a classically-trained artist - being a product of the prestigious Fine Arts program of the University of Santo Tomas. His compositional milieu draws heavily from a strong tradition in Philippine folk culture and society. Traditional Filipino values of friendship and loyalty, love and affection for our grandparents and strong family values as well as the laid-back feel of the idyll countryside, figure prominently throughout his works. Interactions between husband and wife, parents and children, grandparents, and families and the community are presented as joyous and happy occasions. Pingol also draws on the Pinoy flair for fun through his series of clown and circus motifs - often seen mingling with the town folk in fiestas and carnivals. Pingol’s unique and highly innovative style immediately makes his works contemporary by nature.
Having completed new works to his impressive oeuvre, Pingol will be holding a one-man exhibition at the Atrium of the Podium Mall in Ortigas Center from April 29 to May 5, 2013. Entitled Folkism and hosted by Galerie Joaquin Podium, the exhibition formally opens on May 2 at 6:30 p.m. and features new works by this young master of narrative folk scenes in a carefully curated exhibition that draws upon the best samplings of his works.
A fantastic example of Pingol’s style is his painting “A New Day,” which is a cacophony of sights and colors. A traditional horse-drawn calesa passes sorbetes (ice cream) and balloon vendors in a scene straight from the collective notion of the idyll. The brilliant use of color is highly apparent in the finer details - the balloons, the calesa’s yellow paint, the multicolored pathways are all under a bright blue sky. It is as if Pingol found the means to distill the essence of Philippine optimism and spread it on a canvas. Similar in approach is “Candy Vendor,” which takes a specific scene and casts it in front of the bright red of a luminous sunset as well as “Kalesa” with its highly innovative frontal view of the subject.
This optimism is also readily apparent in his series of a traditional folk subject - that of Mother and Child. Both subjects are perpetually smiling, leading to Pingol’s lively usage of hopefulness that accompanies the twin notions of motherhood and childhood. Likewise is Pingol’s depictions of various rural types of people - from the iconic taho vendor to sabong aficionados to workers busy at their craft. These are traditional Philippine activities and Pingol successfully captures them with all the inherent cheerfulness and prosperity in a bygone era. Pingol’s paintings allow us to live within that moment, and inspire us to create a country where this can happen again.
From a collector’s standpoint, the oeuvre of Pingol is not just an invitation to this unique artist’s optimistic world as his works are guaranteed to brighten up any room where it is placed. This distinctive proposition in itself makes his upcoming show an important date in the calendar of any art enthusiast.