The Artist Alfredo Esquillo

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Alfredo Esquillo is a Fine Arts graduate from the University of Santo Tomas.

He was a recipient of the 13 artist award in 2000. His masterful rendering and meticulous preoccupation with detail confront the camera head on and, as his name suggests, is the most equipped to challenge the accuracy of the camera in delineating objects as they appear to the eye and in capturing details of light color and texture.

He wields the brush with cold objective precision and his technical wizardry evokes the archetypal rivalry between man and machine. Esquillo revels in his own consummate skill. His current portraits from old photographs are painted in multiple versions with the precision of a photo copying machine yet his technique is entirely freehand.

He paints these clones that morph into other characters with subtle incremental change reminiscent of time lapse photography. This grand gesture of competing with the sneer virtuosity borders on elements of hubris; a sense of desperate heroism of man versus technology but what Esquillo offers as his edge is his souls and mind. Esquillo presents us with complex labyrinth compositions that are metaphors for both the individual and collective anxieties of a people in a desolate urban wasteland.

His handling of light gives a sense of stage or studio setting and his images recall theatrical reenactments steeped in the indigenous color of folk Catholicism and medieval self-chastisement.

His recurring theme is of humanity trapped in an elaborate maze of its own making, trudging listlessly along a weathered path like beasts of burden or lab rats in a perpetual treadmill; wandering through dead end streets and alleys in dire need of otherworldly rescue and salvation from without.

Spiritually isolated and disconnected from each other, the routine existence of his characters is confined within the tight space of his canvases with no external symbols of release.

He captures the ritualistic drudgery of forlorn, uninspired souls trapped like puppets in an existentialist play. Like a proselytizing messianic voyeur he look out at his subject but as spectator from an elevated vantage point apart from the dense circus crowd. He depicts its external anxieties with the absence of self critical irony and takes to heart the Promethean task of provider or dispenser of knowledge. Esquillo offers a kind of optimistic, rose-colored salvation or redemption through art. Every meticulously painted object is an oracle, a signpost or clue to a thread that the artist wishes the viewer to pursue in this penitential journey. He translates into canvas these biblical parables of polarities; of the dual nature of man and oblivion and salvation. – Ronald Achacoso

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