SOCIOPOLITICAL and environmental issues affecting the present and threatening future generations were the focal points of a Thomasian artist’s solo exhibition at the Art Cube Gallery in Makati. 

Painting alumnus and former Varsitarian artist Jose “Pinggot” Zulueta showcased a series of ink-on-paper illustrations depicting his worry for the future in his exhibit “Obskvra.” 

“I’m concerned about the future of my grandchild, the future generation, because I see a dark future ahead,” Zulueta said in Filipino. 

“In a small way, I have to do my part. I need to make a story out of it because if I don’t, it’s just like I’m witnessing it before my eyes, but I did not do anything,” he added.

Being in the art scene for several decades now, Zulueta said he wanted his works to go beyond just aesthetic allure and go deep into the pressing issues of reality.  

“I have reached the point where my works are about social realism, about protest,” Zulueta said. “I don’t want my works to just be beautiful…I want to make a statement.”

A total of 10 illustrations were featured in the exhibit, all rendered in black, white, and orange hues. 

At the centerpiece was the 46×33-in. illustration titled “Hereditas (Legacy),” which depicts a young girl in a court dress with her face obscured by a large, orange mass. 

Zulueta said it is inspired by renowned Spanish painter Diego Velasquez’s “Infanta Margarita,” a portrait of Margaret Theresa of Spain picking her dress up as if performing a curtsy.

Jose ‘Pinggot’ Zulueta’s 46×33-in. illustration titled ‘Hereditas (Legacy).’ (Photo by Jana Francesca D. Yao/ The Varsitarian)

Salvador Dali is another Spanish painter who influenced Zulueta in his works, specifically in the 16×24-in. “Reborn,” the Thomasian artist’s take on Dali’s “Rhinocerotic Figure of Phidias’s Illisos.”

Jose ‘PInggot’ Zulueta’s 16×24-in. illustration titled ‘Reborn.” (Photo by Jana Francesca D. Yao/ The Varsitarian)

Zulueta leaned into the environmental aspect of his exhibit in “The Earthkeeper,” a 24×16-in. piece that is his interpretation of the climate change issue hounding the world. 

It depicts a cloaked figure standing against a backdrop of dark clouds, with a heart leaking plumes of orange smoke at the center of its chest.

Jose ‘Pinggot’ Zulueta’s 24×16-in. illustration titled ‘The Earthkeeper.’ (Photo by Jana Francesca D. Yao/ The Varsitarian)

A similarly cloaked figure can be seen in the 24×16-in. “Bleeding Faith,” where it stands in the middle of two portrayals of Jesus Christ, one on the cross and another wearing a crown of thorns.

Jose ‘Pinggot’ Zulueta’s 24×16-in. piece ‘Bleeding Faith.’ (Photo by Jana Francesca D. Yao/The Varsitarian)

Zulueta let his surrealistic skill shine through in “Bride of the Wind,” a pair of hands and antler horns enveloped by overgrown vegetation.

Jose ‘Pinggot’ Zulueta’s 24×16-in. piece titled ‘Bride of the Wind.’ (Photo by Jana Francesca D. Yao/ The Varsitarian)

“Immortalis” and “The Allegory of Rupture” both depict disembodied figures, with the former obstructed by a looming orange figure and the latter lying on an open plane, below a blanket of dark clouds. 

Despite being skilled in mixed media, Zulueta chose to render the pieces through ink on paper because the medium, he said, was “very special” to him. Zulueta was trained to draw editorial cartoons during his time in the campus press.  

His “Obskvra” exhibit ran from March 9 to 30.


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