By Hannah Jo Uy
Images by Pinggot Zulueta
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Painting is the ultimate expression of creative freedom for Jose “Joy” Ferdinand M. Rojas II, whose abstract works reveal his contemplations on the world in the context of his own experience. When faced with the canvas, Rojas completely bares his soul. Disassociating from the cerebral life he leads as a successful and highly distinguished lawyer, he unleashes his raw humanity through a narrative that weaves together colors and textures in stunning visual harmony. Thoughts and opinions on life, religion, and the inner workings of society, coupled with memories of unforgettable places, are the components of his creative repertoire, one which continues to evolve in an organic manner.
The creative process of Rojas is that which marries spontaneity and discipline. After initially developing a study of his proposed abstract artwork, he moves the idea to the canvas, meticulously applying sheets of materials in paint of approximately five to 10 layers. “It is methodical,” he admits. “But when you’re already on the canvas there are variations from the original study—it then becomes spontaneous with my thoughts and feelings at the moment.” Though Rojas admittedly indulges and gives himself over completely to the process, each stroke a significant ingredient in the artist’s visual cocktail, Rojas is ritualistic in working afternoon or evenings and weekends.
For Rojas, the process of creation was utterly alluring, even when he was young. Early on, Rojas said, he was already drawing and sketching and, eventually, he discovered that painting provided him with a unique and unparalleled sense of self-satisfaction as “you create an original product.”
His early exposure to horses also became a fundamental pillar in his work, “Our family,” he says, “was into horseracing and breeding.” When he was young, his notebooks were overflowing with drawings of horses as he was captivated by their elegance, especially when they would canter and gallop. The most alluring for Rojas, however, is the inherent power of horses and their wild, free, almost untamable spirit. This echoes his views and philosophy toward art making as a whole.
These were the roots that gave birth to Rojas’s colors and palettes, as the scenes and ambiance of his early days and continuing passion toward horses, in addition to his travels, inform his abstractions. He pulls on the tread of memory, to add a layer of intimacy on the piece, moving from contemplation to recollection. Whether it’s the spectrum that colored his experiences in St Petersburg in Moscow, or the foliage on a memorable street during his undergraduate days, or his fond memories of purebred race horses, these color schemes, moods, and ambiance inevitably find their way to the canvas through the artist’s deliberate strokes.
Each piece reveals Rojas’ unique perception of the world around him as he filters his observations from elements, such as the tough and fine sand, the grass, the paddocks, the hues and shades of the jockey’s uniform into poignant and evocative pieces.
The fruits of his commitment to craft and contemplation are celebrated in “Material Maker” his second solo exhibition at the Pinto Art Museum. The second show closely follows his successful debut exhibit in December of 2017. While Rojas said that he considers the invitation from Pinto Art Museum to be a privilege, it was, more important, a challenge that urged him to have absolute focus to complete the collection. “I was painting daily,” he says, “day and night.”
The result is series of 30 works that form a sequel serving as an enhanced continuation of his debut shows, with bolder textures and colors. Each piece showcases Rojas deep understanding of color and texture and how best to optimize it through contrasts and combinations and its interaction with light. He weaves in these different elements and adjusts to create engaging works of art with undeniable character.
For Rojas, the creative life is a never ending process of evolution and he believes his rapid progression is underpinned by the support of his colleagues in the Saturday Group whom he credits for inspiring and guiding him as an artist.
‘Material Make’ runs until April 30, 2018at the Pinto Art Museum.