As the title overtly suggests, "Fragmentos" is collection of pieces that serve as dynamic snippets of the artist's oeuvre thus far.
Francisco Verano has been well known for his figurative landscape paintings and for his sculptures made of unconventional and indigenous materials, i.e (Bamboo Fugue Series now housed at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, House on Stilts Series of vMeme Art Gallery Collection, etc.) To then posit that his abstract paintings have been at large a ''major constant" in his progression of works as an artist would then be a huge challenge when there is no distinct body of literature that could support such an argument. This interjection is arresting to say the least but a big portion of Verano's works yet to be seen in public are abstractions on canvas. Interestingly a lot of his sculptures seem to have picked up from these creations or vice versa which stand to prove how he is involved in exploring various artistic media against the ever changing social backdrops.
To start with this '"tabularasa" of sorts is to reconstruct / deconstruct our long held notion of Verano's invaluable contribution to the art scene, let us for instance say, in the form of figurative landscape paintings which was bourne out of a time when 'a singular vision of the Philippines as a Republic was in the offing. Most of his earlier paintings were commissioned and he had thus created a space teeming and pulsating with life, so pristine and distinctly poetic. This does not aim to exclude any existing summation of how his works on canvas have progressively been documented or labeled as mostly figurative from the 60's onwards but is geared towards the creation of a new dialogue, or as what has been earlier suggested 'interjecting a new way of seeing or studying'.
Deriving from Alice Guillermo's 'Image Into Meaning", a single work of art is often more completely understood when viewed in the context of the artist's entire body of works.
Francisco Verano has continually produced works over the years and a comprehensive catalogue of his creations is a tall order of business to be had. A visit to his studio would clue us into his inner workings and thus "Fragmentos" was helmed as an invitation to take part in an ever evolving organic work in progress: for the artist his latest offering is more about driving the message in the most simple way. In both platforms, sculptures and paintings, he has ingeniously mastered the use of ordinary materials in the creation of artistic pieces where he is very much at the core of eliciting emotions using line, color, texture and space.
In his acrylic paintings we could gloss over how Verano wields with the intensity of the blue palate moving on to the richness of warm colors from ochre to yellow and burnt sienna receding into monotone shades of brown and gray. The process of slowly discarding the intensity of hues can be likened to the movement of time, or seasons even, if one is to find the nuances of his landscape paintings transported into his abstractions. In one breath we are somewhat called to sense the coolness of the sky and water and then warmth of the earth and trees afterwhich we are called into the vagueness and stillness of dawn or dusk. Quoting Kirk Varnedoe in "Pictures of Nothing" "The less there is to look at, the more you have to look, the more you have to be in the picture.”
Francisco M. Verano (b. 1937) graduated with a degree in Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. A visual artist who has explored different media in painting and sculpture, Verano has exhibited extensively both locally and abroad. His works have become part of private and institutional collections. He has received several awards; among them: First Prize in Sculpture, given by the Art Association of the Philippines (1959) and Best Landscape Award in the 24th AAP Annual Art Competition (1971). He has also worked as an advertising professional since his graduation in 1962. He has helmed the Creative Arts/Marketing Communications department of several reputable companies, including Planter’s Products, Inc. (1977-1980); Mobil Awards for Philippine Art, Mobil Oil Philippines (1980-1981); and in 1991, he set-up his own advertising and public relations company. He has likewise received recognition in the field of advertising, winning the Award for Excellence in Advertising Art in the First Philippine Advertising Congress in 1969. He was President of the UP College of Fine Arts Alumni Foundation (1983-1991) and was President of the Saturday Group in 2003.
As a child he hated blank spaces and loved working with his hands. He was inclined to draw on walls or any piece of paper laying around. There were also not a lot of toys to buy and he managed to create his own by using ordinary objects such as cans and woodblocks. His neighborhood friends back then took delight in gathering everyday to play with the toys such as jeepneys, cars and tanks that he created himself. On the otherhand he often got punished for supposedly messing up the walls he had drawn on and clearly remembered how adults resorted to erasing those scribblings with a fresh coat of paint. Perhaps the storyline dramatically changed one fine day, when as a freshman he began tinkering with a block of adobe. "Stone Idol" is the groundbreaking fragment that jumpstarts the amazing visual display in "Fragmentos".
The exhibition has been perceived and guest curated by Sheryll "Eryl" Torres and Creating Space Incorporated under the Relay Program. Expansive in its coverage, this project reveals trove of largely unseen and unexamined works which according to them could hopefully serve as a prelude to a deeper and more in-depth art historical catalogue of Francisco Verano's works as it continually evolves. Included in the exhibit is a video that documents the artistic process and research work leading into the creation of the exhibit.