ORDINARY paper napkins were transformed into powerful and interesting canvases in Rodolfo Samonte’s solo exhibit, “The Abstract McSketches of Rodolfo Samonte,” at Galerie Astra in Makati City last March 17-31.

Fine Arts alumnus Rodolfo Samonte said he spontaneously made the sketches on paper napkins while having breakfast daily at fast-food chain McDonald’s, thus his new series called “McSketches.”

Samonte explained he discovered the ability of an ordinary material to be maneuvered into vividly painted canvases.

His 38 works on exhibit were mostly in ink highlighted by acrylic paint and followed his abstract expressionist bent—geometric shapes clashing with chaotic lines in black and white. Some were accented with colors red and cinnamon brown.

Samonte said the dynamics of the symmetrical lines and geometry on the paper napkins show effects not present in linen or cotton canvases.

“The patterns would not have the same effect without the pulps and weaves of McDonald’s paper napkins,” Samonte said in an interview with the Varsitarian. “It adds to the complexity of the abstract work as the ink joins and becomes coherent with the line positions.”

“Without the texture and absorbency of the paper napkins,” Samonte added, “the stains and smudges will not show its intended natural and abstract effect.”

Renowned art critic Cid Reyes praised Samonte.

“What is so breathtaking with Samonte’s new series is the unbelievable inexhaustibility of the composition of the works,” said Reyes during the opening night. “He turned an ordinary material into a medium that would excite the audience as each stroke of paint on the paper napkin proceeds in a direction that is totally unexpected.”

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Samonte is also an acclaimed printmaker and digital artist. He was influenced by primitivism, a type of modern art alluding to the stylistic elements of tribal objects and non-Western art forms, of which he practiced with Thomasian multi-awarded painter Mario Parial and former Varsitarian art director Ramon Dellosa during his stay in the University. Amierelle Anne A. Bulan

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