Jerry Donato – The Philippine Star

October 29, 2021 | 12:00am

From expressing his creativity in the moving images of film, Richard Somes extends and explores it further on the two-dimensional canvas. His subject matter materializes from the surface. Housed at the Secret Fresh Gallery, Ronac Arts Center in Greenhills, his first solo exhibit titled Into the Mind of Richard V. Somes can attest to it. The film and TV director affirms that his medium is indeed visual and remains loyal to it.

“I’m serving two different styles,” answered Richard when asked about his art philosophies and medium in a recent virtual media conference. “In a way, I love expressionism and I love modern.” But the director said he tries to push himself to be more crafty, creative about the hybrid leaning.

“To do an expressionism thing, it’s all about emotions, in fact, ang dami kong nakalatag na buhos lang ng pintura with emotions and go with the flow,” shared he. “I realized I want to be restrained, I want to put discipline and focus into my work.”

Some of Richard’s works that pay homage to women, described by him as strong and resilient. ‘They fi ght, they struggle but they will always rise above.’

Richard started doing “portraits of women in a realistic form,” as his fruits of labor, but the Somes template, as seen in his films, is present. “It’s dark, it’s gritty and it’s ironic,” said he. “In fact, a lot of people say it’s bizarre. I want to expose and show the creative side of me that I can be more fluid or I can stick to a subject matter that I could spend a whole lot of time, na ubusin ko ang time ko dun because I want it to be fine, to be restricted and at the same time, I want it na mas hubog siya ng oras (that the work is shaped and refined by time).”

His working stance as a painter is fueled and fulfilled by expressionism. “Yung pagod na pagod ka. I can do it like, to be honest I can do an expressionism work na mga three sa isang araw, flow lang talaga,” said he, whose influences are Jean-Michel Basquiat, Willem de Kooning, Paul Gauguin and Henri Matisse.

“Then na-switch ako sa influence ni Matisse, the forms and the color, until such time I tried to explore it and work around my subject matter, which are women,” added Richard. “I tried to define the body of a woman, her hair and eyes, especially hands, kasi yun ang pinaka mahirap (gawin), yung kamay ng babae. But my entire canvas is a mixture of what’s inside my head.”

With that, his one-man showcase is homage to women. “Why women?,” Richard asked himself while “laying down” the foundation of his work, “Because nakikita ko ang strength ng babae, nakikita ko yung pagiging resilient ng babae. If you’re going to see my subject matter, it might gonna be bizarre… but my women (as) my subjects are resilient, they fight, they struggle but they will always rise above.”

Do the women in his paintings reflect the women in his movies? Richard replied: “It is also a reflection of how I was raised by a single mom, yun yung template ko na makikita mo yung strength ng nanay mo na na-re-reflect mo sa mga babae even in a physical form, in a mental form or in the character of a woman, I just find women fascinating and (I’m) very, very proud of it. They have that strength and resiliency that could only be found in women.”

It’s fair to say that his take on the visual art is a continuum or extension of his interest in cinema. With that, the director shared the gist of the curatorial remarks made by director Erik Matti, Richard’s Ilonggo kababayan and kababata (province mate and childhood friend).

“It’s still my reflection of how I do my films,” said he, “the set design, the colors, the texture, the chaos, the emotion, everything is all in there. So, in a way, it’s more of just being genuine with how you felt, and being genuine with your imagination and this time around, ang daming restraints sa pelikula. We are truly restrained because of the economics, because of the demands nang gagawin mo sa pelikula man o sa TV, but with my canvas, this is how I truly feel now, I’m truly free now. I could do what’s inside my head and I could express what I truly feel now.”

In spite of his newfound passion for painting, Richard still commits himself to directing. In fact, two upcoming movies are in the editing phase.

“I just found my other part of the romance of my journey as an artist,” said Richard. “And this painting of mine saved me from all the anxieties and from all the dilemmas of the pandemic.”

Aside from the artists like Richard, the audiences can turn to the arts in getting by whatever life may throw at them.

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