Throughout his career, Malabon-based artist Renato Balute has consistently helped reimagine social and cultural issues through his works. His recent exhibit “The Stories We Live By” at the Arte Bettina’s Curatorial Concept for Art Fair Philippines 2022 showcased various narratives of women from all walks of life and the experiences they are made of. Each subject has its own personality, identity, behavior, undertaking, and growth, with their bold and bright colors replete with emotional eyes so deep you’d be curious to find out its story.
Renato Balute Jr and his artwork “Smile like a Monster”
The exhibit is the result of Balute’s lockdown habit—to feed his curiosity and depict the realities of various women trying to make it through life outside of their homes, exposed to the dangers of the pandemic. Using pop realism, the Fine Arts-Painting graduate of the University of the East shared their stories.
He looked into every subject’s struggle and explored its potential to find light and hope even under the bleakest circumstances. “This passion to get their stories started in the middle of the pandemic. There were only a few people allowed outside and I became curious about what went on in their lives. Of course, it was a challenge, but it was worth it,” he says.
“Still Beautiful,” Oil, acrylic and graphite gesso prime, 2021
“Unfocused 2,” Oil, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 2021
Balute wanted to show the resilience of women, to show that they are stronger than David who defeated the giant Goliath. Their strength comes from their conviction to provide for their family, to face whatever challenge that comes for them, and to overcome everything with grace.
“They say that women are weak. So, I wanted to show them that women are stronger than they think. Men and women are made equal. These women are local vendors who strive every day, not just for themselves, but for their families. Not everyone has the courage to do that,” says Balute.
Balute’s artworks communicate through a lot of bright colors, yet underneath the positive façade are the struggles that become the inner strengths of her subjects. Inner Beast conveys regal poise and immense bravery. His Still Beautiful captures the depth of sadness in a woman’s eyes as if the world is on her shoulders, yet she is bursting with magnificence. Most of his creations focus on the eyes, revealing deep bruises that likely last a lifetime.
“After Grey,” Oil on canvas, 2021
“Inner Beast,” Oil, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 2021
“I want my audience to see the beauty and the grotesque. Majority of the people focus too much on the physical aspect and the positive outlook of humans. I want them to know that there is a grotesque side to every human and there they will see true beauty,” he says.
Of his many images, the one that stood out is After Grey. It personifies Balute’s affection for imperfection, how people look for them, and how he turns them into art.
His images, though exploding with colors, translate into enchanting energy, catering to each viewer’s imagination and, in so doing, provoking the viewer to think about the story behind the work.
Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph