Saturday, June 21, 2014

Francisco Pellicer Viri and His Metaphors of Unbroken Lines

Francisco Pellicer Viri with his paintings 
“Longing is the agony of the nearness of the distant."
~ Martin Heidegger (German philosopher, 1889–1976)

IN HIS SHOW titled “One Liners” at The Crucible Gallery in SM Megamall last March 18, 2014, Francisco Pellicer Viri draws both childlike and complicated lines in his paintings. With his developed principle of “one-liner” or unbroken line figure, he consistently treads on the pendulous themes between existential freedom and solitude, innocence and inanity, coherence and absurdity. 

The line is not just a simple line that Viri might have started as a child then continued during his formal studies (Bachelor of Fine Arts) in Rhode Island School of Design, a prestigious school in fine arts and design in USA. His line is a streak of continuous line, which starts from a certain point then goes back to the same point after forming a seamless figure, thus mimicking the unbroken perimeter of a circle with no beginning or ending.

“The line,” says Viri “is the basic element that forms the figures in my works. Each composition is structured by only one line. The line is the heart of the drawing. The line is the soul of my paintings.”

In this vein, Viri proposes an eccentric artistic style that embodies the principle of continuity. Behind the opulent forms and colors of his art, lies the symbolic representation of a solitary figure, drawn or painted in a circuitous unbroken line. What is profoundly tangible in his art is the poetic rendition of solitude and, to a certain extent, his proclivity to existential soloism.  However, even in his elegiac portrayal of solitariness, Viri’s sensibility and humor emerge in some of his compositions. 

In “The Linear Passion,” for instance, Viri depicts a nude woman with left arm holding a scarf-like element flinging into the air. With both arms raised at shoulder level, the woman is traipsing in a leisurely manner as if tramping on a catwalk. Despite the semi-abstract rendition, the artist’s sensibility is deftly reflected on the free-flowing line of feminine figure: laid-back, graceful, and elegant.

THE LINEAR PASSION, acrylic on canvas  

In another painting titled “The Educated Sadness,” Viri depicts a lonely man donning dark eyeglasses. The color of the canvas is golden ochre with concentric lighter hue against the figure’s head while its body, in blue and green colors, interspersing from lighter to darker tones. The human figure is half-drawn, thus exposing the two lateral unconnected lines down the horizontal edge of the canvas. The disrupted single line, whether consciously or unconsciously intended by the artist, expresses the desolate presence of a disjointed figure, literally and figuratively.

In “The Daydream,” similar to the golden ochre background of “The Educated Sadness,” albeit lighter and inchoately textured, Viri portrays the same solitary figure, but this time with a convoluted single line. The picture describes a man sitting with his right elbow resting on the table while the palm of the hand supporting his slightly bent face. Above him are colored shapes that resemble the twigs and leaves of a tree.

Apparently, the male figure is drifting in meditative mood, reminiscent of Rodin’s bronze sculpture “Le Penseur” (The Thinker) or better yet, Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche’s main character in his philosophical novel “Ein Buch für Alle und Keinen” (Thus Spake Zarathustra).

Other paintings—like The Enlightenment, The Fantasy of the Magical Spirit, The Imagination, The Light of the Poetic Cry, and Linear Head, to name a few—are all but existential evocations of human condition, tiptoeing between joy and solitude, loss and acceptance, separation and reconciliation. 

Ubiquitous and recursive, the theme of Viri’s art depicts the visceral state of patrician solitude.  Every figure on canvas exemplifies either an alienated or a self-contained man or woman floundering in solitary activity. By merely looking at Viri’s figure, one can immediately feel that sense of vertiginous aloofness, which seems detached from the world akin to Albert Camus’ Meursault, the main character of his novel L’Étranger, or that sense of being resolved with the self at the end of a lonely journey of Nietzsche's main character in “Thus Spake Zarathustra.”

THE IMAGINATION, acrylic on canvas

Indeed, Viri’s solitary human figure personifies Zarathustra and his cyclical quest for life and meaning. It implicitly signifies the frightening human struggle in the process of evolving and becoming. The becoming characterizes the growing tensions between the terminus a quo and terminus ad quem until the two points converge and become one, as in Viri’s one-liner figure. Once life has found its purpose and meaning, the beginning and ending are no longer reckonable, as they become one harmonic line of a fully lived and understood existence.

At hindsight, every artist undergoes the same dialectical process in the quest for the self and aesthetic meaning.  As Viri evolves beyond the empirical compulsion of art making, dramatic changes gradually occur on the themes and colors of his works. His recent paintings are teeming with pulsating colors contrary to his earlier works that were bleak and discreet. The feisty colors compensate his inherently solitary figure on canvas, a transcendent transformation from previously drab and muted world to a deeply felt existence.

A closer look at Viri’s oeuvre, the symbiotic relationship between him and his art dissolves the barrier of his private life (as an enigmatic person) and the solitary imagery of his painting. His deepening awareness of life nurtures his art, while the latter mollifies his seemingly nihilistic perception of the world through the coherent intimation of his forms and colors. Although, his subject is innately self-contained within the confinement of his canvases, that simple or circuitous unbroken line from which his figure is made of—a one complete harmonic line—unifies his vision and his being as an artist. 

“Thus spoke Zarathustra and left his cave, glowing and strong, like a morning sun coming out of gloomy mountains,” wrote Nietzsche at the end of his novel. 

Hence, the transformative process of Viri’s art is akin to the awakening of Zarathustra who transcends from the misery of his world by coming to terms with his homesick self, as a convalescing man who finally comes home and makes peace with himself and the world.

THE EDUCATED SADNESS, acrylic on canvas by Francisco Pellicer Viri (photo courtesy of The Crucible Gallery)

(For inquiry of Francisco Pellicer Viri’s works, The Crucible Gallery can be contacted at tel. no. 635-6061 or emailed at 

© Danny Castillones Sillada