Drawn: On Artist Marcial Pontillas

A throng of people filling a canvas to the edges is the trademark of a Marcial Pontillas artwork. His paintings sparked amusement for an in-joke revealed which only a Filipino, like himself, knew. When one was transfixed, the viewer may have found himself in fuzzy mayhem and asking: Am I here?

Even say, I know this!
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In the Name of the Father ©Marcial Pontillas 2012IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER • 5ft x 8ft / Oil on canvas © Marcial Pontillas 2012

Panahon ng Kalayaan ©Marcial Pontillas 1998PANAHON NG KALAYAAN © Marcial Pontillas 1998

Palabas Nanaman ©Marcial Pontillas 1996PALABAS NANAMAN  © Marcial Pontillas 1996

A congested city and the brimming crowd Pontillas painted in the 90s showed how observant he was. What was striking was the fact that the story he repeatedly drew was about us, the Filipino in exodus, among them: the commuter, the devotee, and the Manilenyo.

It is true that Pontillas paints these images with an obsessiveness verging on vengeance, but doing so has become salutary for the artist. The gesture is by turns cathartic and aesthetic. — Cid Reyes, Art Critic

Nazareno © Marcial Pontillas 1999NAZARENO © Marcial Pontillas 1996

Pop Culture (Trapik) © Marcial Pontillas 2004POP CULTURE (TRAPIK) © Marcial Pontillas 2004

Art critic, Cid Reyes, in his article Crowd Drawer: The Art of Marcial Pontillas, wrote: “There is an unmistakable sense of placeness in the works of Marcial Pontillas, an image sustained through the years of his youth. The crowd scene has become his trademark, an image of self-proclamation, as well as a blistening indictment of the city of his affection. With the hideous sprawl of an almost derelict metropolis, Metro Manila is a nightmare. It is true that Pontillas paints these images with an obsessiveness verging on vengeance, but doing so has become salutary for the artist. The gesture is by turns cathartic and aesthetic. Not only does he express his intense observation of the city, but in the process he has also reaped a string of awards.”

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