The exhibit runs until Friday at The Podium.
Kenneth John Montegrande did not always envision to become an artist. He excelled in his other callings: as a member of the press, a public relations professional, and later, as a spokesperson to the Department of Tourism’s National Parks Development Authority.
But painting beckoned him to become the artist that he is now. The thought that his works “Abstrak” and “Enigmatic Series II” would be included in the collections of Yusaku Maezawa certainly surprised him. The mega collector also counts Basquiat, Bruce Nauman, Alexander Calder, Jeff Koons as part of his prized possessions.
Meanwhile, Montegrande’s “Transfigurings of Freshest Blue” and “Perla del Mar de Oriente” are now siblings to works by Sorolla, Luna, and Amorsolo in the collection of the Malacañang Museum in 2019.
Painting and art was far from his reality, when as a child, he had to sell snacks in Ermita to supplement their family income. As a professional, he would only start painting when got to talk to the artists of an art event he organized for Intramuros Administration just 10 years before.
He certainly has gone a long way from his early exhibitions, which were done with the help of friends and staged in informal venues like the Olive Bistro, or in The City State Hotel, and at one time, even as part of an event for a real estate group’s prime clients.
Montegrande’s art reflects his journey. Where he used to work with small 18 x 24 inches format in subdued colors, he now expresses himself comfortably in bright colors and in grand scale of 8 x 12 feet.
In 2021, he would have a two-man exhibition with the great Juvenal Sanso; and plans are in the works for another two-man exhibition with a national artist in 2022. Gone are the years of self-doubt, when he would paint, despite objections from family and friends, and sometimes sharp criticism from art professionals, about his talent and intent in painting.
See the light
The stellar rise of this persistent self-taught artist, whose faith held him steadfast in his course, within the span of a decade, is what is being celebrated in this, his 11th solo exhibition at Art Lounge Manila.
Fifteen paintings and a mix of abstract expressionist works and cloudscapes in style, comprise “A Decade of Kenneth Montegrande.” All 15 works exude an intensity that is typical of Montegrande’s works, an intensity triggered by stark contrasts and bold impastos.
Chiaroscuro is seen in his atmospheric cloudscapes; which he skillfully employs to express his faith, and the hope which it brings specially in difficult moments.
For Montegrande, faith allows us to see the light when we are covered in the darkness. With titles mostly derived from or obliquely connected to the story of Jesus calming the storm in the gospel of Mark, the artist shares how his faith enables him to calm life’s storms in his works.
And although they are deeply personal, his paintings resonate the hope we hold on to, in these troubled times.
Montegrande’s spirituality, which allows him to extoll that God is in control, is visibly expressed this through his works: “Be Still,” “After the Storm,” “A Quiet Time with God,” “Light of Wisdom,” and “Promise of a New Dawn.”
While his other selections for the exhibit—“Whisper from the Moon,” “Symphony of Life,” and “Clouds of Hope”—do not relate directly with the Biblical, their interplay of dark and light against the vastness of the sky elicits awe.
Montegrande employs a more cheerful tone for his abstract expressionistic works. This he executes by combining analogous and complementary colors, as well as in the texture created by heavy impasto.
Creating visual energy in these two forms, result in the intensity that marks a Montegrande work.
As seen in “Waiting for Another Sunrise,” “Marvelous Sunset,” and “Midnight Blue-Abstract Version,” this is mostly contained within the center of the canvas. But the free form and energetic use of line, and the surrounding calm space create an exciting center that engages the viewer and excites both the senses and the imagination.
In a decade, the artist has transcended various obstacles in order to achieve the success that he is reaping now. And for this, Montegrande is not only grateful, but also encouraging others who are called by art, to pursue their passion, as he is proof that persistence pays off.
“A Decade of Kenneth Montegrande ” runs until August 5, 2021 at Art Lounge Manila. For inquiries, call at 0977-839-8971, or email [email protected].