As a youngster, Edmundo “Dodo” Fernandez often daydreamed. When bored in class he frequently sketched, etched, doodled and drew.
This genuine interest in art led him to pursue a Fine Arts degree, majoring in Painting, at the University of the Philippines Diliman.
Br. Edmundo ‘Dodo’ Fernandez draws the nautilus shell.
Despite this artistic inclination, he chose to be a Christian Brother — a vocation not necessarily attuned to the arts. Today, Bro. Dodo Fernandez, FSC, is the president of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde and La Salle Green Hills. Due to his responsibilities, he plans and implements programs and projects. There is work to be done in these institutions.
Drawing No. 16, 2013
Drawing No. 18, 2019.
Drawing No. 15, 2021.
Drawing No. 23, 2019.
He draws a clear line between art and his vocation. “My two personas of artist and brother-leader have been dichotomized,” he said.
During his artist residency in Vermont in the United States, he planned to paint. Yet he ended up creating large illustrations. “I am drawn to it. I gravitate to it,” he explained.
Drawing No. 22, 2019.
Drawing No. 24, 2020.
at an artist residence in Japan.
He was constantly asked why his work had no context — they were simply suspended from reality on a blank piece of paper. “I just like the idea of an object taken away from its context and presented as what it was,” he pointed out. This continued in his stay in Japan and France, where he kept sketching.
“I go to an artist residency for a few months and I am an artist, and I must say, I love doing this. I finish my sabbatical and go back to my role as Brother and leader. It was hard to merge the two. In many ways they are opposing,” he said.
As a culmination of his months of artistic seclusions and the resulting obras maestras through the years,
Br. Dodo has unveiled Drawings, an exhibit from his residences in Japan and France.
Drawing No. 19, 2019.
Drawing No. 32, 2019.
Composed of 21 images on pencil and paper, each subject is presented out of context in specific subject matters such as the Holocaust and 9/11 victims and dead flies, to other items such as the robes of other Christian Brothers, the nautilus, a banana and a bull clip.
Interestingly, these pieces do not have formal, artistic titles. They are simply named Drawing No. X, for they were meant as exercises, an exploration of various subject matters. Perhaps this is likewise an act of humility — to label each and every creation just by numbers.
We caught up with Br. Dodo on his inspirations, motivations and experiences on this exhibit:
On what compels him to draw
“It is quite meditative and actually intense. I love having to figure out the different gradations of shades and as one looks more closely at things one sees more nuance.”
On experience in residences
“I loved living independently as an artist in the residencies I went to. To cook for myself, buy groceries, clean my place, wash my clothes. An artist residency is a counterpoint to a religious house where everything is regimented, rules need to be followed. I love the freedom and independence an artist residency offers.”
On Holocaust victims
“Two things come together in these images. My abhorrence of violence and war and my fascination with mortality. I have always found needless, gratuitous violence hard to understand.”
On dead flies
“I wanted to do something different. But I was at a loss. I focused on the nautilus which was, as my mentor would say, ‘Highly controlled.’ He wanted me to loosen up and experiment. Hence, I ended up doing flies. In fact, among all the works in the show, they are the most edgy and experimental.”
On other objects
The banana and the bull clip were exercises. I was exploring subjects and wanted to see what would click. On the other hand, the robes are actually an offshoot of the works in Vermont. I wanted to continue on these when I returned from the States, so they were done while I was on retreat in Baguio. They were meant to be a series of robes of different Brothers and, if you look closely they are all different, meant as portraits of Brothers. I only ended up doing three.
On preferred art style
“In college studying Fine Arts, I fell in love with Abstract Expressionism and all that it stood for. I loved the way Jackson Pollock poured paint and was “inside” the canvas. I continue to admire the works of that era. However, I also like Renaissance painters of Florence, but also the Venetian painters — Veronese, Tintoretto, Titian. I love any kind of art that allows you to appreciate its process — art that makes you think.”
Edmundo Fernandez’s Drawings: From Residences in Japan and France is on view at the Tall Gallery of the Finale Art File in Makati until 20 October.
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