Remarkable Imperfections: The Art of Kenneth John Montegrande
One must be inexact but precise.— Juan Gris
Kenneth John Montegrande is one of the few youngblood Filipino painters with an international reputation so to speak. He’s the first Filipino and also the first Southeast Asian artist whose work are housed in the prestigious collection of Contemporary Arts Foundation founded and directed by Yusaku Maezawa. (Maezawa is a Japanese tycoon and mega art collector whose purchase in 2017 of a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat for $110.5 million, among other acquisitions, made headlines.)
The new paintings of Montegrande will be on view during the artist’s sixth solo exhibition entitled REMARKABLE IMPERFECTIONS: THE ART OF KENNETH MONTEGRANDE. The event will be held at the newly constructed Altro Mondo Creative Space at 1159 Chino Roces Ave., Brgy San Antonio from April 27 to May 20, 2019. The exhibition opens on April 27, 6:00 PM. The exhibition includes 20 paintings—the sizes of which range from 9 by 12 inches to 48 by 96 inches; and the styles, from romantic impressionism to abstract expressionism.
One could look at Montegrande’s painting and say that there are two sides to his artistic character. On the one hand, he’s a pretty straightforward romantic-impressionist painter of eloquent and oftentimes iridescent land-, sea-, and cloudscapes that are indelibly an extension of the artist’s own inscape. And on the other hand, he can be a conjurer of what the British painter Francis Bacon calls “real painting” where the artist enacts “a mysterious and continuous struggle with chance.” In the case of Montegrande, the struggle is captivatingly depicted by a palette of brilliant and lurid new tones, configured in an array of captivating strokes, shapes, density, as well as texturing techniques.
The viewers of Montegrande could certainly find in the ethos of his art a resonance of Bacon’s depiction of “real painting” as “pure intuition and luck and taking advantage of what happens when you splash the bits down.” They could instinctively conclude that he, especially as an abstract expressionist painter, risks everything on emotion and inspiration. But they could choose to take a closer look, and in so doing, grow to realize that the “risks” of spontaneous and free-ranging expressions are skillfully re-collected (in quite a Wordsworthian sense) by firstly, a very keen intelligence and art instinct, and secondly, Taste (to use a term that just wouldn’t fit into a conceptual straightjacket).
De gustibus, non est disputandum. One could take the introduction of Taste into the equation of the above aesthetic observation as an invitation to see the work in person or at least, in the images provided in this article.
“Remarkable Imperfections”! At first glance, this depiction of the art of Montegrande for this exhibit sounds like one of those flashy and even procrustean titles galleries use to draw the attention of its collectors-clients. But on second look, one will begin to see the “remarkability” of “imperfection” especially when the latter phenomenon is viewed in the light of Juan Gris’s words—that “one must be inexact but precise.”
The painter’s representation of imperfections, of inexactness in both his figurative impressionist paintings and his non-figurative abstract artworks—that gesture could be analogous to the young boy’s quest for Araby in James Joyce’s poignant short narrative. The foregrounding of imperfections and ambivalences in the paintings—that would be the painter’s measure of precision in calling out for re-marks in the imagination—that of the beholders of his art, which is no less the artist’s.
THE POSSIBILITY OF RE-MARKINGS! That’s the impetus for this forthcoming exhibition called REMARKABLE IMPERFECTIONS. That’s in fact the élan vital of the art of Kenneth John Montegrande. And surely that’s the reason for this invitation!