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A call for heroes

By Dexter R. Matilla

There is a sense of wonderment to be had when viewing Philipp Ines’ works, which, at first glance have the ability to immediately attack one’s visual perception.

Philipp Ines

Especially for the ones that are part of his “A Call for Heroes” collection that was recently exhibited at Pinto Art Museum, I have to wonder, what is it that I am looking at here?

A portrait of what appears to be Philippine heroes, with Jose Rizal being the easiest to identify, is shown in “Bayani Noon, Tayo Naman Ngayon.” Behind is presumably Doña Marcela Agoncillo, with some help, sewing the flag of the Philippines.

So are these really the heroes we’ve been taught about from the history books? Or are these just some really stylish individuals from an alternate timeline donning the most fashionable floral fall collection?

‘Tunog Ng Kalikasan,’ 36×48 inches, oil on canvas, 2023; ‘Bayani Noon, Tayo naman Ngayon,’ 72×48 inches, oil on canvas, 2023

As an artist, Ines interprets them as he sees fit—but for what purpose exactly?

A handloom is the subject of “Abel Ni Lilang” and it adds to the complex mystery of the artist’s message, especially for those who may not have even seen one in person. A fool may not even know the proper orientation of how to hang this piece but then again, art doesn’t always have to abide by the rules.

And then we get some sense of clarity with “Pariwara,” where a female figure holds a beer bottle on one hand and a cigarette on another. One can assume that this might be a personification of Gaea, with Ines’ stylized floral patterns for her hair covering her upper body while lounging in summer short shorts. Humanity doesn’t care for her so why should she?

‘Euan,’ 36×24 inches, oil on canvas, 2023; ‘Mentor,’ 36×24 inches, oil on canvas, 2023

In “Retratista,” Ines may be attempting to show us the majesty of nature if only we learn to appreciate it up close. Perched on a branch is a hornbill surrounded by colorful vegetation that has caught the interest of the photographer who, despite the painting’s title is curiously unseen, only part of his lens shown. The same can be said of “Tunog ng Kalikasan” where we see a female violinist ready to play but seemingly missing her bow, a parrot waiting for the performance and ready to mimic what it hears. In both works, nature’s beauty is the focus.

Place of solace

Ines’ fascination with the natural environment makes sense since he considers it as his healing ground.

The artist grew up in the mountainous region of Ilocos Sur but his resolve to truly care for nature came when he contracted COVID during the pandemic.

He poured his attention on his plants and Ines says this balanced out his emotions. The vibrant colors of all things floral gives him happiness every time.

“It taught me to smile, to be thankful, to share, and to be patient,” Ines says.

‘Pariwara,’ 36×24 inches, oil on canvas, 2023; ‘Pariwara,’ 36×24 inches, oil on canvas, 2023

Thus, his advocacy for the environment will continue through his art. The plastered eyes and mouth that has become his signature are those of friends and acquaintances who ascribe to the same ideals and it is his way of honoring them. He credits Dr. Joven Cuanang, beloved art patron, for being the most influential in this.

“During the years of the (Philippine) revolution wars, we needed heroes to fight against the country’s colonizers,” Ines says. “Now we need heroes to fight for the environment.”

So perhaps this is Ines’ intention here all along—to capture the viewers’ curiosity through the use of vibrant and brave colors and hold their interest long enough for them to contemplate whether the heroes within them will ever be stirred to take action or will remain hypnotized by trivial things and short-form content, oblivious to the environmental issues threatening humanity.

Email the author dxmatillawrites@gmail.com

Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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