Jaime Gubaton diverts from usual style to relay urgent message

In this era of constant waste and ruin, “Foiled” serves as a reminder of the dangers of mindless consumerism and its deadly consequences on the environment. Presented by Arte Bettina, the solo exhibition of Filipino visual artist Jaime Gubaton is on view from 30 August to 12 September at the ArtistSpace, located at the ground level of Ayala Museum Annex, Makati Avenue corner Dela Rosa Street, Greenbelt Park, Makati City.

Gubaton, a veteran artist with the burning enthusiasm of a student, considers artmaking a continuous process — a cycle of retaining, changing and revisiting. Born in 1981, he is an artist who mainly works with oil painting and contemporary figures and portraits juxtaposed with various elements, some linear and graphic representations, with the use of appropriated materials that are borrowed from a day-to-day context. Gubaton considers making art a craft that is executed using clear formal rules and that always refers to social reality.

His works are notable for their perfect finish and tactile nature. This is of great importance and bears witness to great craftsmanship.

The style and the corresponding vision of the artist naturally evolve and mature, but there is something in the initial creative impulse that continues to be sustained through their works, whether it is a preferential treatment of color, a recurring image or a conspicuously revisited subject matter. In the case of Gubaton, now considered one of the most sought-after artists working today, an emphasis on certain qualities of the Filipino identity can be discerned, even if he has fully ventured into photorealistic depictions of portraits.

His formal arts education began at the University of the East in Caloocan, where he majored in advertising. He was already winning major art competitions while still in college. In 2002, he won the grand prize for both the PLDT-DPC Directory Cover National Competition and Art Petron, which influenced him to pursue a career as a painter. Art competitions served as his early training ground for painting until he was invited to participate in several art exhibits by various galleries both locally and internationally.

“My artistic journey is a learning process that enables me to improve my skills and techniques. It opens opportunities for me to better appreciate the history and culture of the world. Allow yourself to grow at your own pace. Don’t rush the process,” Gubaton said.

Despite being a firm believer in the foundational skills of art, he centers his practice on experimentation and polishes his skills by regularly stepping away from routine — a feat many shy away from due to human nature’s fear of the uncertain. “Foiled” showcases this as he deviates from human portraiture and instead breathes nature and its pollutants onto a dark canvas.

As much as “Foiled” has prevention at its core, Gubaton weaves the multiplicity of his concept into the composition of his works. His paintings take inspiration from a foiling technique seen in jewelry making and mimics its principle of using foil to further emphasize its symbolism, spotlighting his subjects onto an almost black base.

There is no mistaking the message of his show, and that is intentional. He is blunt in his execution and his intentions could easily be received at a glance. Nature is in danger, and its stewards have become its executioners. Gubaton takes this opportunity to champion what he has always implemented in his act of creation, a willingness to change.

ArtistSpace, an art gallery established in 2004, is dedicated to the promotion of contemporary visual arts featuring a wide range of styles and media from local and foreign artists in two-week exhibitions. The gallery is open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is free. For queries on the exhibition, contact Arte Bettina at 905-2696095,
27004-3209 or [email protected]. For more information on ArtistSpace, contact Jane Salvador at 917-8264425 or [email protected].