THE Art Portal, Gallery for Contemporary Art along Legaspi Street is but a small room providing enough space to showcase the masterpieces of featured local artists.
From March 23 to April 4, the gallery featured the surrealist paintings of 25-year-old visual artist Red Genotiva.
Upon entrance, one is welcomed by one of the biggest paintings in the room titled Uncertainty Gaze, which shows a figure of a child whose head is seemingly transformed into a rain cloud with multiple weeping eyes.
Around the figure are dripping, writhing trees, and small differently-colored cones on the ground, and two origami birds flying around as if looking for a place to land.
Red was born and raised in Davao City and graduated with a degree in Information Technology major in Multimedia at the University of Immaculate Concepcion. He further studied Fine Arts major in Painting at the University of San Carlos although he has yet to finish the second degree.
The solo exhibit at Art Portal was his third. He first had his solo exhibit at Morning Light Art Gallery and Shop, Quirino St., Davao City in February 2018. It was followed by a second solo exhibit last January of this year at the University of the Philippines-Cebu.
We asked Red to sit by Uncertainty Gaze for the video shoot. There was hesitation on Red’s part when asked about the story and the inspiration behind the painting. He would later on share, when the camera has been turned off, that the particular painting has actually a very personal attachment and story for him. We did not push with the question.
But looking around the room, one discovers the sadness of the children subjects of his paintings. Each painting has a certain surrealistic and fantastic realm that they seem to exist in. As he further on discussed, his works and the world to which his paintings created represent the thought world of children. With colors like purple, pink, and blue dominating his works, it conveys a certain story of a child for each painting.
Red also shared how young adults struggle to function in the society as grown ups and yet in the midst of all these societal responsibilities is a child – just a child who might still be very anxious and in panic of whatever or however the world around him operates.
His works most of the times have humanoid figures whose heads transform into bizarre figures like flowers, monsters, or even irregular shapes. Red’s works, although attempts to translate the thought-world of children, speak volumes to adults.
Like a typical boy, Red’s interest of art and drawing stemmed from his constant watching of Japanese anime such as Digimon and Pokemon in particular. His fondness of drawing monsters was inspired by the monsters that he saw growing up watching anime. However huge and frightening the word “monsters” may be, Red’s works are far from terrifying. They’re not nightmarish but with the friendly colors, they speak to you, an adult who might have this struggling inner child.