On Castrillo's Copper Hammerouts
Directly opposed to his jeweller-as-artist persona is that of the artist-as-society’s social conscience… suddenly the frivolity of the haute monde is pushed aside, and with these very same jeweller’s hands hammering on a brass sheet, the pain of the underclass and the lament of the politically and socially oppressed assume dramatic expression in the form of demi-human forms writhing in pain. This facet of Castrillo is best appreciated in his copper hammerouts.
…as the titles indicate, the images depicted are generally those of man as victim. His subjects covered typical human tragedies such as the sudden wave of refugee boat people fleeing various oppressive shores… Castrillo hammered out various universal emotions and with these current social situations as well). Vignettes of the human condition in copper repousse. Having grown up in Manila’s streets, Castrillo’s own exposure to life at the bottom lent a knife edge to his outlook and a rapport with those run over by the fast cars of exploiters. Ed knew what it was like to be deprived. His involvement in protest action gave him sufficient credentials to offer commentary without falling under the suspicion that this socially-conscious slice of him was just a token bow to arty “heavy” stuff. In the strength of his collection called “Catharsis” series alone, Castrillo has hammered out a secure niche in Philippine art.
Castrillo’s preferred medium for his social-realist themes is copper hammer-out, or repousse. In the Philippines only Castrillo has fully explored this specialized metalcraft. …The technically and physically intricate work the method demanded of an artist was compatible with his jeweller’s background. His technical forte of varied metalcraft is what places Ed in the context of craft-conscious, Renaissance-day artist. Creating a hammerout is not for weak-willed, instant inspiration, spontaneous quick fixers. The process is a tedious struggle to make the stubborn metal stretch itself to the limits of its tensile strength.
Castrillo has taken a very ancient method designed fro delicate and decorative workmanship to express, of all things, the social protest side of him. His designs also utilize abstract spaces to counterpoint to the areas with his semi-abstract figures. The effect is a marriage of modern abstract idioms with figurative social-realist themes. A delicate balancing act. An effective tension between negative spaces in his abstract zigzag lines and a cluster of writhing, stylized figures pushed to one side of the composition.
Castrillo’s approach to relief sculpture is to hammer out raised planes and stylized figures, in some instances creating angular planes and linear zigzags or a contrast in surface finish within the composition. Here, Castrillo explores surface variations, applying acids to oxidized portions of the compositions, or by polishing segments as contrasts to the darker natural patina of copper, or by adding other metal skins such as chrome and silver.