Dotted beauty: the works of Rodolfo “Dolpee” E. Alcantara Jr.

Alcantara in a 2016 photo containing his artist statement
RODOLFO “DOLPEE” EMPLEO ALCANTARA JR. an artist from Angono, Rizal. (Photo used with permission from Mr. Alcantara)

Predominantly, the first thing that you would notice with Rodolfo “Dolpee” Empleo Alcantara Jr.’s works was his modified pointillist style of painting. He utilized the dots to create and recreate the beauty that surrounds him.

Mother's Lullaby
Mother’s Lullaby (30″ x 48″, acrylic on canvas; 2017)

In mathematics, a point is defined as “a point is an exact position or location on a plane surface, and often represented by a dot.” Technically, a point is a zero-dimensional object in math and it is the one that constitutes different dimensional geometry—lines, planes, spaces, and hyperspace.

Meanwhile, in esotery, the Dot in itself is the symbol of God, as it was also the symbol of the ever warm, ever blazing, golden sun. The dot, or that simple point made by a pen, a sharp knife, or a brush with paint, also symbolizes gold—one of the most prized minerals on earth.

Hundreds or perhaps, thousands of dots constitute the carefully painted images, which were combined with arcs or semicircles, carefully put either on the top of the central image(s) or serving as backdrops of the central design. Some curvy or wavy lines that are delicately drawn on top of those images that oftentimes are repetitive, overlapping, and mirrored with each other, giving the painting that fragmented feel, like of the stained glass in a church or a chapel.

And for this art reviewer, such fragmentation is not merely a style. Rather, it is a reminder for the audience that any works of art, in one way or another, is part or a fragment of our present, past, or future realities; a need to reexamine the wholeness of our identity as a being, as a soul soul who opted to live and experience life as a human being, comprised of both tangible and intangible substance (mind, body, spirit, soul, emotions, thoughts, and realizations, mixed all in one like the paints that he use to create those images shown in this essay); and to see our connection to other beings or creatures of nature (as there, some say, exists an invisible yet a strong cord that connects all of us to the Soul of this World, the Anima Mundi, and also to the Spirit of the Universe or the Animus Dei. The former is the link between Spirit and Matter, in contrast with the latter, which is considered as pure spirit, the All-Originating Spirit, the primordial, and the uncreated.)

Just like what said Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini (26 September 1897 – 06 August 1978), known to the world as Pope Paul VI, has said:

“The work of art, just like any fragment of human life considered in its deepest meaning, seems to me devoid of value if it does not offer the hardness, the rigidity, the regularity, the luster on every interior and exterior facet, of the crystal.”

Indeed, at least for this critic, the works of Alcantara has this hardness, rigidity, regularity and the luster of that thing called life or existence for he religiously replicate them through his canvas, painted in a way that is unique and unusual.

When it comes to his human figures, you will see that they were faceless, but you would feel that they are staring—directly—at you. They communicate, as they were alive, sentient of what is happening to their surroundings, though they were “housed” and forever staying there, on a canvas or paper or wood, or whatever material that Alcantara wants to use.

Of course, they were alive for they were parts and parcel of Alcantara’s creative mind, heart, and soul, and they were images of things, beings, places, thoughts, feelings, and experiences that are real and existing though you are not there to experience or enjoy those.

As the award-winning author, fairy authority, and illustrator Brian Froud (born 1947) has said: “I paint the spirit and soul of what I see,” and the way this critic sees it, Alcantara—like any other artists—does that: He carefully and painstakingly trying to capture the “spirit” or the essence of the beautiful things—the real and genuine love of parents to their children (with a particular focus with the maternal love, which is the most powerful and most protective forms of love, close to agape); the school of fish freely swimming at the bottom of the sea; the birds flying in the skies, or resting or perching on the branches of the trees, or in their nests; the unseen muses, faeries, or nymphs in the forests; the ordinary folks that are trying to earn a living; the things that remind of you of being alive; and of course, the things that are truly Filipino—the King of the Road, the jeepney; the ice cream cart of mamang sorbetero; just to name a few.

To end, this critic (though it will sound like self-adulation, but who cares?) wants to quote a piece of writing about Alcantara which is included in a book that will see publication soon:

“…what makes his works more important, aesthetically and culturally, is that they reflect the ideal about the world: there is unity and harmony among peoples; there is strong connection between human beings and other beings in nature and in the Cosmos; that everyone knows the importance of preserving his or local culture and heritage for these things define him or her as a citizen of any country; that humanity  in itself, while not perfect, remains beautiful; and the consciousness can expand and soar if one enjoys the things which are true, good, and beautiful.”



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