Where nature and sci-fi meet

Rene Bituin presents his abstract and surreal worlds

Event Horizon 1-2, Acrylic on Canvas, 2014

Dealing with the everyday feeling of claustrophobic monotony, that is how Filipino visual artist Rene Bituin would describe his pandemic life, no different from how others are going through it. Burned out, he tried to shift his pandemic narrative with his art tools, getting creative while tending the few plants and trees he still has.

Nature plays a great role in his creative process. It is his muse. But unlike other artists who present the environment’s influence through expressionist takes on landscapes and florals, his works are far more contemporary, even surreal, and prophetic in some ways. His early works have, in his own words, predicted a grim world that manifested in recent years.

“I’ve heard that my works were described as abstract and surreal at some point and I do acknowledge those influences,” says Rene. “I’m gradually integrating a painterly approach to some of my recent works.”

SCI-ARTIST Rene Bituin

His life as a creative started at a young age, with his father as his role model. While he was about to pursue computer science in college, he took a different route and studied fine arts at the Far Eastern University. In 2007, he had his first group exhibition at a friend’s apartment in Sampaloc, Manila. At that point, he was able to work as an artist for a mural company and eventually as a studio assistant to artist Louie Cordero, who introduced him to Soler Santos of West Gallery, which became the host of his first solo exhibit in 2014.

Today, Rene’s works still mirror the same effect. His canvases are cautionary tales of what the world might be like in the years to come—No human in sight, trees and natural rock formations meet elements of brutalist architecture and outsider art. Sci-fi, fantasy novels, and mythologies are also present in his pieces with black and neutral tones giving the mood of anxiety and dread.

“In painting, it is up to me to create the image that visualizes the narrative I’m trying to tell and this could take on several layers of meaning and interpretation,” says the artist. “It’s a buildup of forms and lines… Painting is how I feel but I choose not to explicitly lay it out to the viewer.”

His The Other is an Internal Parallel Multiverse painting is like peering through a window to the devastated kingdom in the desert planet Arrakis from the epic saga Dune by Frank Herbert. His IIX and 00;00 artworks, with their geometric abstractions, fossil-like designs, and play on light, are like a new world straight out of a Stanley Kubrick film.

‘In painting, it is up to me to create the image that would visualize the narrative that I’m trying to tell and this could take on several layers of meaning and interpretation.’

“As an artist, there’s just that urge to create, which needs to be attended to, whether it is to paint or draw, or write, or construct, compose, or whatever act realizes the idea. Then, it’s off to the next project,” says Rene. “Looking back, when all that aggressive idealism of younger years has simmered down and experiences afforded us with a wider perspective, my definition of art has grown around the idea of honest and principled expertise. It is an evolving and inclusive signifier of our profound capabilities.”

HOPE AND PROFANITIES There is Still Light at Night, acrylic on canvas, 2014

Although Rene continues to paint his haunting visions of a post-human era, much like his There is still Light at Night, he believes there is still hope in these challenging times and in the future, he’ll channel that by forecasting a much better world through his art.

“I’m planning on revisiting some old works that I did pre-pandemic… Maybe reimagine them with more optimism,” he says.

See more of the artist’s works @non.aural on Instagram.