Gerhard Richter…Anselm Kiefer…George Baselitz…Sigmar Polke…Jorg Immendorp…
To anyone who has kept track of contemporary art, these venerable names send shivers down the spine, not from fear or trembling, but in sheer awe and reverence. So moved are we by the magnanimity of their visions, their voracious appetite for experimentation, their provocative images of politically and socially engaged works, and by their apocalyptic visitation on their country’s historic events and crises. Germans all, they wrested international attention with their convention-shattering works, the visual equivalent of their countryman Wagner’s music, with his spectacles of the gods consumed by flames, or that of Beethoven, a genius forging his music against the impending loss of hearing.
Frankly, it’s enough to make of anyone a Germanophile. Which, not surprisingly, is the title of Randalf Dilla’s solo exhibition now on view at the Shangri-la Makati, organized by Hiraya Gallery. For Randalf, is still on a “high”, having been fortunate to have received a two month artist residency grant in Bruchkobel, Germany.
To be sure, there is none of the German masters’ Gotterdammerung sensibility in Randalf’s works, which are drenched in a dreamy and nostalgic lyricism, and which most likely corresponds with the artist’s temperament, though a marked strain of surrealism, with a touch of the gothic, makes its presence felt, keeping the works on a slightly nervy edge.
A work such as “Early October,” a veritable Octoberfest of libation in an open space, with the beer literally flowing, even as the lush leaves of the overhanging trees shelter the happy crowd of revelers, to which Randalf has intriguingly applied a grey, paste-like mask.
A work of stark contemporary social reality is the painting titled “Refugees,” a sad, disturbing depiction of the deracinated, the uprooted, people, migrating from war-torn countries, risking lives, on board symbolic paper boats tossed by a raging sea. They land on a serene contented village, still unaware of the unwelcome intrusion into its privileged existence.
The treatment of the title piece, “Germanophile,” is a bow to Surrealism, with its various layers of confounding realities, as the artist, his back to the audience, paints a pretty fraulein on a canvasin his studio, our sight shifting from the field of flowers, and back again to the studio with its overhead lights.
“Germanophile” painting recently received the Best Trompe L’oeil runner up award from the most prestigious realist art competition in the Americas and perhaps the world, the International ARC Salon.
Much on display are the artist’s technical skills, of which there can be no doubt. The viewer, too, has no doubt of the value and impact that travel outside one’s country can do to open up an artist’s sensibility and imagination. Randalf Dilla’s “Germanophile” show will attest to that.