Rising contemporary artist and photographer Markus Jentes mounts his latest solo exhibition at the Altro Mondo Creative Space, in an effort to open more possibilities in the world of art

With past series of geometrical patterns in complementary and contrasting colours, Markus Jentes is a promising creative force in the resurgence of abstract-modernist style in this day and age. However, this very characteristic pushed him to explore further—beyond the predictable box of his own art into the unchartered terrain.

Recently this month, Jentes presented his latest collection of works inspired by his newfound realisations about nature and its ever-changing colours and moods. Showcasing the artist's versatility, the exhibition "Terra Colóris" is a result of the artist's departure from subject-less and scene-less abstract pieces into works influenced by expressionism and impressionism.

For most of his career, Jentes has used acrylic paint as a medium. This particular exhibition has allowed the artist to experiment with texture and colour in different variations—creating thousands of colour textures to form scenes.

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"The change was realising the ability to push further beyond the style I was very comfortable with," says Jentes to Tatler. "Throughout the years, creating almost subject-less or scene-less art was something I loved doing. I was going after the idea that art didn't necessarily need still-life scenes and or figurative executions to move viewers. And it was quite successful. For viewers, it was perhaps only the titles of my work which gave the audience a semblance of what the work was about," he adds.

"Terra Colóris", on the other hand, unveils the artist's ability to tackle the familiar theme of nature in an abstract-expressionist way. "The title of the show represents the marriage of Earth, nature and colour, interpreted by myself and how I imagined their characteristics. Many of the pieces show more literal scenes in nature which was not ever-present in my previous work," Jentes explains.

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Jentes' penchant for the arts started when he was around the age of five. "I was fond of drawing and learning to properly portray things I see and imagine onto paper using coloured pencils and crayons," he narrates. "It was not until late high school that I really plan on taking this passion to the next level. By the time I entered Pepperdine University, I pursued a bachelor's degree in fine art and art history," he continues.

Among many exemplary Filipino artists, it is the late Fernando Zóbel he is most fond of. "I am in awe of his minimalist style and approach to abstract art," he says. Also, he is a fan of the works of Valen Valero, Binong Javier, Beatrix Syjuco, and a whole lot more. "Each of them has a unique touch for abstract art and a wonderful ability to create beautiful, moving pieces through the use of colours and shapes."

Jentes is also a big admirer of Frank Stella and Mark Rothko, whose works inspired him to develop his own style after graduating. "I also love the works of Korean artist Park Seo-bo, British-American artist Sarah Morris, and American painter Patrick Wilson. All pose a wonderful mix of minimalism and expressionism in their work which I personally find magnificent," he adds.

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The artist explains that back when he was starting to navigate through the art scene, his art was very methodical in approach and execution. "My 2016 to 2020 volume of abstract work was predominantly hard-edged and geometric in nature. Being in the advertising and design world has put firm processes in motion, and those works really reflected it. That was also true for my photography work, both commercially and personally. While I still begin many of my newer pieces in this manner, I eventually let the reins loose as the work progresses to follow what truly comes to the mind and the heart as the work takes its own shape and character. This is where I felt the difference in how I was doing art and where it was taking me," Jentes recalls.

From careful planning of each work all the way to the last brush stroke of completion, Jentes has pivoted to a more spontaneous approach in his creative process. "I needed to revisit letting the work take its own shape. This was an important step I didn't give room to in the past. And now that I have taken full advantage of it for this show, I feel it helped achieve the results I personally looked for when portraying my abstract work," Jentes expresses. "This has permanently changed my thinking and surely influences my style and output."

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For Jentes, nature is something many take for granted until it is seen in all its glory. His exhibition captures both its wrath and calmness while staying true to its distinct command of colours. As the seasons change in his paintings, Jentes evokes his spiritual understanding of nature that has deepened through the years.

"It [Nature] is all around us, and we are but merely a part of it. It gives us life and also takes lives. Without it, there is nothing on this planet. Having understood this, the flow of creating the work felt different. Literally, there are almost no straight lines in the artworks themselves except for the structure of the canvas frames which bind it all together," he says.

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Progressions and regressions in artists' works are not unusual. Even the most prolific masters today have obscure works in their retrospectives. But instead of seeing these as varying periods in their artistic identity, one must understand that each series captures elements that will complete them over time.

"Yes, I do believe artists are dynamic and have to be that way," Jentes says. "I don't know of any artist that hasn't gone through numerous styles before coming into their own unique style, only to change yet again down the line. I am no exception."

In his piece Fall For Me, which captures autumn colours in a balance of sombre and bliss, Jentes deviates from his former style of geometry and equilibrium.

"This large painting is one of a few in the show that shows a landscape scene. Inspired by the Autumn season with its warm red, orange, yellow and brown tones. The warm colours are further offset with cooler hues of purple, violet and pink to give it some balance," he describes. "This (Fall For Me), on the other hand, is almost a complete departure from the abstract. Yes, there is a lot of expressionism in it, but it practically borders, if not crosses over, into impressionism. This is also key in allowing nature (at least in my artwork) to be seen and better understood as a subject in my art, and in general," he emphasises.

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The artist shares with Tatler that he aims for the audience to appreciate the idea that nature is beautiful in innumerable ways and can also be beautifully portrayed in various artistic and creative ways. Nature, for him, is the biggest natural inspiration that is all around us and thus deserves utmost care and appreciation.

"Art, to me, is the ability to create, experience, or appreciate things that aren't always clearly defined. And because of this, art can exist in any way, shape, or form to anyone," Jentes concludes.

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