THE POPULAR Filipino devotion to the Black Nazarene is expressed anew by Thomasian artist Auggie Fontanilla in Kristo y Kristos, an exhibit of paintings and a polyptych at the Pasilyo Victorio Edades of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) from March 22 to April 30.
Fontanilla showcased 38 paintings of the dark-skinned image of Jesus Christ melded with his signature style of injecting American and graffiti tattoo aesthetics to religious imagery.
Before mounting the exhibit, Fontanilla interviewed Black Nazarene devotees who are also vendors of religious merchandise outside the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, to find out their perceptions on their devotion.
“Their thoughts regarding their devotion to the icon seemed to only lead to one path. Their faith and intentions are just simply pure and true,” Fontanilla told the Varsitarian.
Fontanilla clarified that his works on Kristo y Kristos were not a tirade against Catholicism despite his unconventional depictions of the centuries-old religious image.
“That’s just my personal take. It’s a matter of subjective and objective perspectives on how you want to see it,” he said.
Fontanilla differentiated his work from Mideo Cruz’s art installation in “Kulo,” an exhibit that drew controversy five years ago.
“There are no similarities to past controversial exhibits with the same subjects. It’s been happening in different industries and other art scenes,” he said.
Rica Estrada of the Visual Arts Division of CCP said the exhibit was an answer to the “Kulo” issue.
“Auggie’s works show the eventual Christ in a different way,” she said. “There may be opposing points of view about this but for the CCP, artists are free to use this image and are free to make their own statement about religious images.”
A polyptych, composed of 10 paintings forming the body of a crucified Christ, greeted visitors. Orange, red and yellow hues dominated the paintings.
“Nasa Templo na Ako” was the main segment of the polyptych that depicted Christ’s head wearing a crown of thorns, with the word “TEMPLO” written above his head.
Fontanilla’s “Tatalikuran ang Hinahanap na Tiwala,” an acrylic and serigraph on canvas, portrayed a shirtless man whose entire back is tattooed with monochrome images of Christ in different styles and angles.
“I infused the aesthetics of Filipino imagery and manipulated it with the traditional image of Christ that tattoo artists use,” he said.
After graduating with an advertising arts degree from the University in 2004, Fontanilla ventured into education, entrepreneurship, events and logistics. His art has been featured in several venues like the Lopez Museum, the National Museum and the Pablo and Post Gallery.
He was a production artist for Summit Media from 2004 to 2005 and publishing art director for Preview magazine from 2007 to 2011.