Debosyon: Lymuel Bautista Tackles People’s Devotion through Thought-Provoking Paintings in Latest Exhibition

August 23, 2023



Daniel Lampa

Lymuel Aguilar Bautista is a Filipino artist whose journey began in the quaint town of San Jose, Calumpit, Bulacan. His formative years were colored by the sights, sounds, and stories of his hometown. This foundation would later shape his artistic expression in profound ways. Lymuel pursued his passion at Bulacan State University, where he pursued a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a major in Visual Communication. During his time there, he found his voice as an artist and a student journalist. These dual roles allowed him to weave intricate narratives, capturing the essence of his experiences and surroundings.

In 2019, Bautista’s artistic journey took a significant turn as he became a part of “Tuklas,” an esteemed mentoring program hosted by the Eskinita Art Gallery. Guided by the experienced hands of mentors Alfredo Esquillo and Renato Habulan, Lymuel’s skills and perspectives were honed. This mentorship period was a crucible, forging him into an artist with a unique vision. His canvases boldly mirror the heartbeat of society. His art becomes a canvas for pressing conversations as he fearlessly casts a spotlight on social ills and human rights narratives. Through his distorted, warped figures, Bautista skillfully captures the essence of struggle in its rawest form. His art resonates with the personal stories he carries and the collective experiences of those who have walked similar paths.

Music, another cornerstone of his influences, adds a rhythm to his creative process. The harmonious interplay of his artistic endeavors and musical inspirations creates a symphony of expression that resonates deeply with those who encounter his work. His dedication to his craft and his steadfast commitment to addressing societal issues craft a deeply personal and universally relatable narrative. His art serves as a mirror, reflecting the complexities of existence and inviting us to join the dialogue on the struggles and triumphs that define the human experience.

In his solo exhibition on view at ART CUBE gallery titled “Debosyon,” the artist presents a narrative employing a distinctive approach to the visual canvas, deftly converting it into a portrayal of rippled metal rooftops. Utilizing rich shades of deep reds and browns reminiscent of weathered iron, Bautista directs attention towards the precarious circumstances experienced by marginalized communities—primarily constituting the nation’s majority—along with the daily challenges they confront.

In this exhibit, which he worked on for three months, He diverges from his customary socio-realistic subject matter, as exemplified by his piece “Haunting Wail of Chaos,” which secured the Grand Award in the Watermedia on Paper category of the 2021 Metrobank Art and Design Excellence, a visual parable illustrating the intersection of pandemic-related trials with societal concerns. Instead, Lymuel’s intent centers on the concept of “devotion,” specifically focusing on familial devotion. Drawing inspiration from his mother, who embodies an unwavering commitment to raising her children single-handedly, he pays homage reflecting the resilience and sacrifices of numerous mothers in analogous situations.

The notion of “devotion” takes on an additional dimension within the exhibition as it converges with religious symbolism. For example, in Lymuel’s main piece titled Madre de Pamilya, men bear the weighty burden of a beam or post instead of bearing a cross, symbolizing the challenges inherent in establishing a home. This creation is a homage to his mother’s dedication to raising them single-handedly after his father’s demise in 2013.

For his works titled “Paghilon,” “Pagtanggap,” “Pagsubok,” and “Pangaral,” the expended matchsticks are depicted as implements of flagellation, underscoring how seemingly volatile the sacrifices of the less fortunate can be. This concept of penance becomes a thought-provoking element of the exhibit, suggesting that, at times, devotion necessitates individuals to offer up their lives for a grander purpose, specifically, creating a domestic haven.

The artist, scheduled to undergo an Art residency program under Eskinita Art Farm next year, also perceives this exhibition as his sanctuary from the weighty and impactful themes he has hitherto pursued in his work. Lymuel says, “This show offers a respite from my past works that are political. My attack on this show is personal as opposed to my previous works. Soon, I’ll be back to the persistent context of my pieces, but this time, I have chosen to enter the sanctuary of home to recharge.”

Through “Debosyon,” Lymuel Bautista skillfully displays the extent of his artistic aptitude while delving into the intersections of personal, societal, and spiritual aspects, particularly within the Philippine context. Through his innovative representation techniques and exploration of a diverse array of themes, Bautista’s creations present a promising trajectory within contemporary art. As a youthful and visionary artist, he is enduringly impacting the art sphere with evocative and potent artworks that echo the essence of self-expression.

Art Cube Gallery is at OPVI Centre, 2295 Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati City, Philippines.

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Photos by the Author

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