Artists Abe Orobia and Rowin Obrero on the beauty of impermanence

Published January 13, 2021, 2:00 PM

by Terrence Repelente

Capturing nature’s evanescence 

Rowin Obrero and Abe Orobia

For Abe Orobia and Rowin Obrero, one way to champion the beauty of nature is through art. In their recent two-man show, “Beyond the Yonder,” which was held at the Galerie Joaquin at U.P. Town Center, the impressionist duo beautifully rendered breathtaking landscapes that show their admiration and passion for nature, qualities that they believe all human beings possess. The works, however, are not just purely products of simple sightseeing and observation, they are results of an array of complex and personal elements, including spirituality, isolation, and nostalgia.

Abe, a lecturer at the University of Santo Tomas and De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, was the one who came up with the idea for the exhibition. According to him, it all started as a yearning for something he never had as a child. “Growing up in the city, I had no province to go to every summer,” he says. “Because of this, I developed the love for traveling, getting away from the city to find enjoyment and relaxation. Since then, I have learned to appreciate every detail of clouds, water, greens, and whatever element a non-urban scenery may have.”


Orange Light by Abe Orobia
Burning Bush by Abe Orobia

He describes this tranquil feeling as being one with nature.“I am a naturalist and it is very apparent in my works,” says Abe. “This sums up my artistic style in the exhibit, a city dweller in love with nature. This is my impression and take on the subject of nature.”              

Rowin, a self-taught, full-time artist based in Zamboanga del Sur, on the other hand, tells a narrative about how he grew up in the province, with the countryside scenery as a staple inspiration in his art style. He also carries the notion that the element of nature is a “vehicle.” A vehicle that has served and helped artists to express themselves throughout history.

Eminent Coast by Rowin Obrero
Exalted Land by Rowin Obrero

“It has become the impetus of our show,” says Rowin. “The landscape genre investigates a painting’s ability to record the authenticity of the real world and to communicate the artist’s experiences in nature. Yet, there is more to the artworks than simply firsthand interpretation. These are emotions, feelings, concepts that both artists delve upon to create their oeuvre.”

Utilizing nature as a driving force to create art has been done so many times that the exhibition does not really offer something new or radical. The artists know this. “Landscapes and seascapes are not new at all. In fact, they are considered genre painting and not a movement,” Abe admits. “Even early civilizations depicted nature-inspired art, which sprang from every period’s train of thought.” 

‘I want the audience to reflect on my work as beautiful places, depicted as picturesque and pristine, without human presence, without the presence of clutter and pollution caused by us, humans.’

For Abe, the point is not to create something new, but to create from what is present and invite others to ponder on what we currently have—the remains of a decaying earth. “I want the audience to reflect on my work as beautiful places, depicted as picturesque and pristine without human presence,” he says, “without the presence of clutter and pollution caused by us, humans.” 

When contrasted and looked at closely, the two bodies of work are noticeably different, in temperature, tone, and texture. Like night and day. Obvious are the artists’ own conception of nature and scenery, and their impact on their personal lives, as translated onto the canvas. As a whole, however, the works blend perfectly.


Frivolous Morning II by Rowin Obrero
Orange and Blue by Abe Orobia

While these types of work are often frowned upon, seen as dull and boring, the exhibition, as its name implies, goes beyond the simple appreciation of the natural horizon. It does not just ask you to look at a landscape and to appreciate its beauty. It is a memento. “A reminder to us that, just like our lives, everything in this world is temporal, so we better strive to take care of it,” Abe says. “Upon reaching a horizon is another horizon. Look beyond the yonder.” Moreover, “the works are influenced by the beauty and power of nature,” Rowin says.“And, paradoxically, its evanescence.”

‘Beyond the Yonder,’ ran last December 2020 at Galerie Joaquin at the U.P. Town Center; [email protected]