In line with the current exhibition 6 Decades of A.G. Austria, the Cultural Center of the Philippines will be hosting an exhibit walk-through with artist Antonio Austria on 15 June, from 1 to 3pm at the CCP’s Bulwagang Juan Luna (Main Gallery). Exhibit curator Ma. Victoria Herrera will be conversing with the artist as he leads guests through the retrospective exhibition.
Folk and naive — these two words have often been used to characterize the art of Antonio G. Austria. But to describe his works as simply that disregards the methodical approach applied to each work and towards the development of his distinctive style. Stylized squat figures rendered in bright colors is now synonymous to his name. Although at closer examination, the childlike and naive qualities of Austria’s paintings are counterbalanced by a well-thought out sense of space, design, and composition. Even with distorted rendering, the viewer is able to promptly recall and connect everyday sights and experiences in his paintings — from the hardworking jeepney driver and his colorful conveyance; the ordered chaos in a store, market, or a street vendor’s merchandise; the excitement in a bar or billiard hall, to a family’s lauriat gathering or a meal in the neighborhood food stall.
Austria garnered top recognition in national art competitions and was among the first group of artists included in the CCP’s roster of the 13 Artists in 1970, a recognition given to promising young artists. It is perhaps this validation early in his artistic life that led to a practice of six decades fuelled by a vision to articulate the Filipino roots and soul in his art. More recently, Austria received the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan sa Larangan ng Pagpinta from the City of Manila (2002) and the Outstanding Thomasian Alumnus (Visual Arts, 2003), from his alma mater — fitting acknowledgements of a life in art well lived.