Visual Trope Strips Bare the Soul
By Constantino Tejero, Philippine Daily Inquirer
Searching, 2001, oil on paper by Danny Castillones Sillada
DANNY SILLADA IS a painter who happens to also write verses. Using both visual and literary mediums, it makes it easier for him to unburden himself of some carry-over angst either existential or inconsequential.
This is the classic case of art as therapy – when the artist purges himself of dark thoughts and bad emotions, all the negativism from his being, either through visible image or the written word.
Sillada says what he has gone through the creative process (the act of painting or drawing) is “much more cathartic and dramatically significant than the finished product itself” (the painting or drawing).
Metaphor, of course, is used, and the artist, naturally, gravitates to surrealism.
“I have my own reason to believe that every reality has its own symbols and meanings that represent the hidden truth of human existence”, he elaborates. “The images I have intricately woven in my art are direct and visible representations of those hidden realities in my inner self.”
In every exhibit of his works then he is offering himself “As I strip my soul naked through the complex and disturbing imagery of my art.”
And how complex it is! how disturbing! – as astounded viewer is confronted by the images in Sillada’s “The Collection,” 37 pieces in oil on canvas and pen and ink on paper, until July 10 in the activity area, 2/F, The Podium, 18 ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City.
Once again the artist is stripping his soul naked through and through – resulting in imagery that’s crammed with symbols strong on sexuality, canvases choked with biomorphic forms and dreamlike images.
We won’t even attempt to unlock the mystery behind every painting and drawing, much less interpret each image. Suffice it to say that the artist admits: “The dark shadow of my soul emerges through my creation like a sordid metaphor between dream and reality.”
By the pieces’ titles alone, one sees a man on a stormy night on the edge of a precipice: “Tears of My broken Soul”, “Ennui,” “Solitudo,” “The Window is There But I Am Not the Window,” “Caged World,” “Repressed Desire,” “The Rotten Womb in My Dream,” “Blood of My Soul,” “My Loneliness, My Despair.”
Obviously this is art that’s symptomatic of a deeply troubled soul. But isn’t the artist just too self-absorbed for comfort? Someone who’s gazing too long on his navel?
Instead of merely directing the viewer’s gaze to his imagery, however, Sillada invites the audience to also “go deeper and decipher the images in relation to their personal experiences.” That should create psychological tension in the viewer.
We invite gallery-goers to go see and drown themselves in this embarrassment of images. For starters, try viewing with composure that blazing image of vagina in red, yellow, black and blue, and ruminate its title: “Menstrual period in Political History.”
Sillada took up Philosophy at the Queen of Apostles College Seminary in Davao, theological and post-graduate studies and the University of Santo Tomas, and obtained his MBA at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business.
The artist is about to be ordained to the priesthood when he left the seminary and later, get married and surely, he’s familiar with “the dark night of the soul.” What anguish and rupture St. John of the Cross so perfervidly put into words; here Sillada is trying to flesh out into visible image.
About the author:
Constantino Tejero, art writer and journalist.
How to cite this article:
Tejero, Constantino. “Visual Trope Strips Bare the Soul." The Philippine Daily Inquirer (Manila) 4 July 2005: D-2. Print.
Online link at Asia Africa Intelligence Wire (July 04, 2005):