Salcedo Stories

Stephanie Honrado Illuminates the Sublime in the Everyday

Stephanie Honrado Illuminates the Sublime in the Everyday

  • 8 July 2022

Following the sold-out success of her first solo exhibition “Come Stai? (How are you?),” and her standout participation in the Art Fair Philippines group show ‘Headspace,’ Florence-based contemporary artist Stephanie Honrado returns this month to Salcedo Private View with ‘Ode to the Ordinary.’

The exhibition shows Honrado continuing in her creative journey to capture the innate beauty of ordinary things, and the environs of her adoptive hometown of Florence. “It moves me that such depth, clarity, and wisdom about the reality of life can come from something so accessible and always available,” says Honrado. What is interesting about these works is the manner in which she extends this notion of finding beauty in the ordinary through her variations on the same subject, as if to further underscore her obsession for unraveling meaning through careful and consistent observation of a single object or scene.

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Presented in this exhibition are several canvases painted in the academic tradition depicting white clouds set against the clear blue sky. Several of these works were painted en plein air or outdoors to encapsulate the “candid energy of on-site painting”. The history of the plein air approach can be traced back to the 1860s, when artists took their ambitions and palettes outdoors, painting scenes of leisure that extolled the fleeting beauty of a summer’s day. In plein air they sought to arrest the ephemeral qualities of light and shade and the passing whims of fleeting moments and cloudscapes.

There is indeed here a certain rawness to Honrado’s images, which allow the artist through her liminal compositions to open “portals to a deepened state of awareness about [her] daily life,” praising the efficacy of working with oil as it emits “a sense of life and atmosphere, and feeling of reality” to her works. This latest collection symbolizes the artist’s enduring passion and commitment to refining her artistic technique in the classical style.

The ‘Sky series’ paintings for example depict cloud formations that the artist observed daily from her preferred spot in the Basilica di Santa Chiara, renowned for being the oldest standing church in the Gothic-Italian style in Assisi. “Cloud formations are visually entertaining. To enjoy them means looking up and away from my own busy-ness and [taking] a literal break from the humdrum of [everyday life],” says Honrado as she comments further on “the fleeting and challenging yet comforting nature of clouds.”

The ‘Scarf series’ on the other hand continues what is arguably Hondrado’s most recognized subject – one that she started painting in 2017 and continues in this show. Honrado renders a single scarf in vibrant reds and blues, knotted, curled, draped, their shapes like projective tests opening the viewers’ mind’s eye to myriad interpretations. Set against a weathered backdrop, the scarves were painted in varying primary colors to further emphasize their stationary positions. It is in this series that Honrado “found practical applications for lessons on hue, value and chroma, which [I] learned [at] the Academy.” The ruffled scarves hanging against a door or a wall are the artist’s deliberate renditions of “simple, functional objects to present a visual experience of pure form, colour, and texture,” as she so delicately describes it.

Other works on exhibit include a series of nude oils on canvas showing the artist’s progress in academic life painting. The nude is an enduring grand tradition of classical art, and can be seen gracing the halls and filling the collections of all major art institutions around the world in various forms. “The nude studies…are all works in progress, and a metaphor for my realization…that one is not born an artist, one becomes an artist,” says Honrado as she recalls the rigorous process of figure painting from life. One sees in the varying degrees of imperfection of their forms the process of learning that the artist boldly presents – unflinching in their revelation of still burgeoning technical skill, and refreshing in their sheer honesty as Honrado pays homage to the ordinary in ways that are anything but.

‘Ode to the Ordinary’ by Stephanie Honrado can be viewed until Friday, 22 July 2022 at Salcedo Auctions, NEX Tower, 6786 Ayala Avenue, Makati City. To view the online catalogue and the virtual gallery, simply click here.