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Arô Soriano

The Elephant In The Room: The Irrepressible Wit And Art Of Arô Soriano

The name of Lazaro “Arô” Soriano (1943-2020) may not readily ring a bell, but the contribution of the Social Realist

About the Artist

The name of Lazaro “Arô” Soriano (1943-2020) may not readily ring a bell, but the contribution of the Social Realist painter, sculptor, and art restorer to Philippine visual arts is inestimable, as evidenced by the selection of works for the art fair. His most important work, “Jack en Poy,” hanging at the Ateneo Art Gallery, features some of the most notable figures of Edsa Revolution such as Corazon Aquino, Cardinal Sin, and Fidel Ramos depicted playing their version of rock-paper-and-scissors and framed within a carnivalesque scene. Painted in 1987, the work strikes a skeptical tone, with its depiction of power as a game played by the elite.

In his 20s, Soriano spent much of his time traveling Europe, studying at the Instituto de Cultura Hispanica in Spain, taking on odd jobs, and learning the grand tradition of art within the halls of European museums. Back in the country, Soriano painted abstract geometric works in the tradition of Constructivism but eventually decided to bring to life vernacular themes in painting instead. “I had to unlearn all the things that I learned to come up with what I’m doing,” Soriano said in an artist statement.

Much of Soriano’s artistic production happened between 1977 and 1992 during which he had six solo exhibitions, mostly at Gallery Genesis. It was during this time that he presented his takes on folk songs, alamat (legends), bugtong (riddles), and salawikain (proverbs), interpreting them through comic situations featuring cartoonish figures. The translation from words to images was not literal. For instance, in his bugtong series, Soriano would include misleading details to throw off the viewer from figuring out what the riddle was.

Humor was a quality that easily shone in his works. “Arô’s paintings are…marked by a playful and joyous energy and spontaneity which easily integrates a light and surreal wit,” said art critic Alice Guillermo. For Norman Crisologo, the curator of the art fair’s Projects, it is “the technical ability that is like a masterwork” which drew him to Soriano’s works. Collectively, these works representative of the best in Soriano’s oeuvre exemplify that no theme or subject matter is beneath the consideration of an artist; anything, so long as it is done with brilliance, technique, and coruscating wit, can find renewed expression on canvas.

 

Words by Carlomar Daoana


Artworks

Arô Soriano
Arô Soriano
Arô Soriano
Arô Soriano
Arô Soriano
Arô Soriano
Arô Soriano


ArtFairPH/Projects Artists

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