Salcedo Stories

Ferdie Montemayor: On Playful Explorations and Artistic Journeys

Ferdie Montemayor: On Playful Explorations and Artistic Journeys

  • 5 July 2023

On the night of his exhibit’s opening preview as guests began to flock in Salcedo Auctions’ main gallery, Ferdinand Montemayor–or Ferdie as most people know him–propped his portable speaker on a corner table and blasted a spirited mix of songs that jumped between old pop ballads and jazz picks. Guests nodded their heads to the beat as they regarded the twelve acrylics on canvas and collection of works on paper–the placement also arranged by the artist himself. It made the affair a deeply personal experience while also encapsulating the essence behind the exhibit’s theme: playfulness or simply having fun.

SAStories-2023-0705-Ferdie Montemayor-01

Ferdie Montemayor for ‘Play,’ his much-awaited second solo exhibition at Salcedo Private View.

When asked about the idea behind Play, Ferdie mused about just painting out of enjoyment rather than for a serious purpose. He did not have any idea of a theme in mind then, only the intuitive urge to play with his colors and material. This creative exploration was always a constant, and if there’s one thing to know about Ferdie, it’s his pursuit of pushing his boundaries and discovering possibilities in his craft.

1994 was a milestone year for Ferdie, when he received the CCP 13 Artist Awards and he created the epic 8 x 44 feet Bayan… Masdan mo na ngayon ang kalikasan for the grant. The iconic masterpiece exemplified his 1990s themes of cityscapes and urbanization from his vantage point in Antipolo. Ferdie attributed this interest to his youthful dreams: the aerial views in wanting to become a pilot when he was a child and later learning that his father was a USAFFE veteran who did reconnaissance missions during World War II; and the structural concepts in wanting to take up architecture in college. In a way, he fulfilled both of these dreams and more.

The artist working on ‘Bayan… Masdan mo na ngayon ang kalikasan,’ an 8 x 44 ft canvas that he made for the 1994 CCP 13 Artist Awards. It’s currently part of Singapore Art Museum’s collection. (image courtesy of the artist)

(Left) ‘4 Corners,’ acrylic on canvas, 40 x 40 in. The iconic ‘bayan’ series saw his transition to representing his cityscapes in spherical shapes and a monochromatic palette. (Right) Richard Gomez was quick with his choice of Ferdie Montemayor’s ‘Red Race.’

In the 2010s, Ferdie’s vision moved from the macro aerial scale to the details–zooming in from the sky down to the streets at the people breathing life into the city. And like an eagle soaring the heavens and looking down below, his attention was caught by movement and was strongly mesmerized by it.

‘Winner! (Panalo!),’ is another iconic piece by Montemayor, created in 2010, and marks another milestone in his artistic journey, representing his shift to dynamic themes and style. This impressive triptych is one of the focal art pieces at Pinto Art Museum, where Ferdie’s roots also began as a member of the Salingpusa art group based in Antipolo. (image courtesy of the artist)

More than a decade later, Ferdie continued his study of movement with Play. The familiar elements are still present, such as the pack of cyclists and the global bayan, as well as the brushworks that skillfully capture the tendrils of energy and kinetic forms of his subjects. This time, he incorporated new subjects–the dainty ballerinas, and the animated puppets–to his muses of motion.

Ballet and puppetry as forms of movement and Ferdie’s new muses of motion. (Left top: ‘Swirling Blue Man,’ ink on paper, 12 x 12 in; Left bottom: ‘Recitals,’ acrylic on canvas, 18 x 24 in; Right, from top to bottom: ‘Figure Study 1,’ acrylic on paper, 11 ¾ x 8 ¼ in; ‘Puppet 1,’ acrylic on paper, 11 ¾ x 8 ¼ in; ‘Puppet 2,’ acrylic on paper, 11 ¾ x 8 ¼ in)

Play as a joyful and dynamic interaction between man and his loyal friend. Ferdie explores his exhibit’s theme with an ode to his furry companion. (‘Misty (diptych),’ acrylic on canvas, 20 x 20 in; 48 x 36 in)

In Play, Ferdie pursued the fun in exploring the extent of what he can do with his current theme and style. His choice of blue and white colors was inspired by a ceramic figurine on his workshop table, coupled with his desire to try something new and just play with it. Ferdie mixed his own pigments to achieve the striking blues and luminescent whites–colors of peace and tranquility, and seemingly reflective of where the artist is at in his artistic journey.

Go u go!’ is the artist’s play on the carousel ride, this time putting a pack of riders in place of the horses that featured prominently in previous works. This 4 x 9.5 feet acrylic on canvas is the centerpiece of the exhibition and, along with nearly all the other canvas works showcased, was quickly sold out as soon as the exhibit opened its doors.

Ferdie explores the motion of the mind, capturing the ever-changing nature of thoughts, ideas, and mental processes. (‘Happy Sunday,’ acrylic on canvas, 36 x 60 in)

Play is a testament to Ferdie Montemayor’s artistic evolution and growth, marked by a shift in style, perspective, and subjects that defined his earlier works. It immersed him in a state of playful exploration and discovery, mirroring his willingness to incorporate new subjects as muses of motion and to skillfully render them using colors that seemingly reflect the current state of his artistic journey. It captured the essence of the ever-moving nature of his creative expression.

Play by Ferdie Montemayor runs from Thursday, June 22 to Saturday, July 5. View the online catalogue by clicking on the link.

Visit Salcedo Auctions from Tuesdays to Fridays, 9AM-5PM, and Saturdays, 9AM-6PM at NEX Tower, 6786 Ayala Avenue, Makati City. For inquiries, phone +63 917 107 5581 | +63 917 825 7449 | +63 917 591 2191 or email [email protected]