EXCERPTS FROM WRITING OF JEANNIE E. JAVELOSA, WRITER-CURATOR
EDUARDO CASTRILLO, famous and multi-awarded Philippine sculptor and one of Asia’s dynamic artists, embodies the solidity and depth of cultural influences of the East and West. From his entry into art through the intricacies of jewellery design, Castrillo moved from strength to strength, becoming the forerunner in all-metal (bronze and brass) sculpture mixed with non-traditional media such as plexiglass, neon lights, ivory and wood, in both the abstract and figurative expressionist styles. His prolific output of the past four decades includes not just nationalist and historical monuments but environmental art, abstract pieces in the round (soft and hard-edged), functional art pieces, art jewelry and body sculptures, hammer-out bar relief murals with strong messages of social issues liturgical arts. Castrillo has always stood apart from the mundane and conventional be it in material, process or themes. His choice has always been that which is the more challenging, the more difficult. His humanistic, spiritual and philosophical themes explore the deepest human aspirations, angst and renewal.
EXCERPTS FROM WRITING BY CID REYES, ART CRITIC
Even with Guillermo Tolentino and Napoleon Abueva as his predecessors, Castrillo took Philippine sculpture by storm. More admirable is the fact that he chose the more difficult and challenging route: public sculpture with its need for vast financial resources. So far the only notable public sculpture the country has produced is Tolentino’s Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan. With the continued lack of patronage, Tolentino produced no other work of equal magnitude.
What distinguishes Castrillo from the rest is the energy of great ambition. Not in the careeristic sense but in grandeur of vision—and result. Vision alone, without the requisite willpower, remains just that: a vague, amorphous yearning. But because it is in the character of Castrillo to attack a challenge head-on, and, more importantly, on his own terms, he has achieved what no other Filipino sculptor has done.
Castrillo’s medium of choice is hammered brass sheets, which circumvented (but only partly), the extremely prohibitive cost of bronze casting. Rather, he found in the medium the true expressive qualities of his art: a merging of planar and angular forms. From these the sculptor has elicited a virtue that, he, more than any other, has achieved: monumentality.
The word is not a synonym for large. Monumental in art assumes the marks of grandeur and nobility, “simple in conception and execution, without any excess of virtuosity, and having something of the enduring, stable and timeless nature of great architecture”. Neither is the word simply ascribed to any monument.
In the more than four decades of Castrillo’s assiduous production, he has created an unparalleled body of work. A perusal of the chronology of his works cannot fail to impress, for here indeed is astonishing achievement. Beyond the physical labor and the needful arrangements with corporate sponsors that brought these works into fruition, we sense a driving faith and intense creativity that impels us to compare Castrillo’s hard-won success with the times when popes and princes vied for the services of a Donatello, Bernini and a Michelangelo.
EXCERPTS FROM WRITING BY EMMANUEL TORRES, CURATOR AND ART CRITIC
Castrillo has also been steadily mastering materials which he is handling, or rather, combining, for the first time: chrome and plexiglass. These materials dominate his current one-man show and indicate his penchant for art that makes use of technology. Very often, he observes, it is the other way around: technology makes use of art as shroud design to sex up industrial projects. To prove his point, his latest creations make use of a battery of technology-sun lamps ovens, jigsaws, acetylene torches, a chrome plated laboratory, and a variety of polymer liquids, acids and electronic devises as well –to achieve the desired effect. Inspite of all the mechanical paraphernalia and chemistry, the artist manages to produce results to conceal intricacy of technique and push the fore preconceived plastic forms and aesthetic motives…
After two years and eight months of labor on the 13 figures which make up his colossal, soon-to-be-unveiled “Redemption”…Castrillo goes completely abstract once again. A welcome change it must be form him–to be able to scale art down from the transcendent to the level of the human and the mundane for his current show.
These latest chrome-and-plexiglass reliefs are a development from previous works in brass, bronze, and iron and carry over the rugged lapidary look of cliffd with angular striated forms that has become the Castrillo landmark for years. “Free form” inadequately
describes them…Each is a design deliberately thought-out with a working knowledge of the peculiar behavior of the materials used either singly or in combination. Each thrives on the dynamic principle of asymmetry. All 14 pieces on view display a jazzy swagger with a touch of swank.
They also make a departure from past works in some ways, their light weight, their transparent/reflective qualities, and their polychromaticism set them apart from the monochrome opacity and gravity of his earlier sculptures. He combines these new features in such shape and forms, in overlapping and cantilevered arrangements, that make them ideally suited to improvisatory lighting.
…”What it does is that these new works projects another side of my personality,” Castrillo says. By which he means the gregarious, gently playful, sometimes capricious and campy, oftentimes expansive and cheerful side of him –the very opposite to that represented by the somber opacity of the large scale works which have a decidedly museum look about them.
"Art will always contribute to the progress of any nation. Today there are no more bounderies...all fuse - product design, popular music, serious theater, graphic arts, textile design, industrial design - cars, objects.... A new industry is developing called the creative industries and these all help the economy. For the progress of a nation, I believe we need more creative minds."
- Eduardo Castrillo