In Filter/Falter, Ferdinand Treasure Riotoc’s second solo exhibition, the artist’s painstaking process is an exercise in camouflage and rendering things visible as he balances the intensity of his oil on canvas paintings with acrylic sheets layered with coats of resin and translucent applications of enamel and aerosol paint, as well as drippings, lines and swirls. The two objects may be considered as separate pieces of art in themselves, but combined, create the final, potent work, imbued with its own significance and meaning. As Riotoc uses his proficiency in photo manipulation and translates it into an expressive pane that holds on its surface phantasms that are projected onto the painting for us to look through, his fascination with using mundane objects as subjects of his work reflects society’s obsession with materialism and the various symbols that they represent. As we each have our own set of filters in seeing the world around us, whether rose-colored or tinted with gloom, we often falter in decisions as our personal biases cloud our judgment. The artist’s pieces are subtle reminders of the clarity that what we should keep in mind as we go about our daily lives.
Riotoc’s canvases are filled with familiar images: a loan shark in its literal interpretation seen through a wrought iron headboard, with debts owed to it disturbing us in our sleep. A fedora hat with a twisted umbrella representing a wanderer who goes whichever way he wants. Coffee cups providing comfort, conversation and a clear head; umbrellas offering protection from the elements, and perhaps, a way to go further up. A matchbook is held by a thumb, a fire set to start; it is in line with a portrait of an index finger ready to pump up an extinguisher, making safety accessible in case of an emergency. Bells indicating the end of a round, perhaps, serve as foreground for a woman about to leave, carrying her heavy baggage with her.
Artists instinctively want to reflect humanity, their own and each other’s, in all its intermittent value and vitality, frailty and fallibility, according to a little-known quote by Tom Hiddleston. Not intended to proselytize, preach or redeem, Riotoc’s works in Filter/Falter are the artist’s observations put into visual form. He is much aware of filters used in digital photography to manipulate images, and relates it to how our human eyes see things – we each have our own way of balancing the light and the dark, the good and the bad, blurring out the details we refuse to acknowledge and highlighting the points that make us feel good; we use our visions as guideposts, crossing our fingers and hoping we do not fail and fall victim to our own foibles.
Ferdinand Treasure Riotoc was one of the Semifinalists of the 2014 Metrobank Art & Design Excellence art competition. He was also hailed as one of the Finalists of the 2008 Art Association of the Philippines annual painting competition and UNP Parangal Awardee in 2004. As a University of Northern Philippines Fine Arts student, he represented his school in several PLDT-DPC Visual Art National Competitions, and won as Semifinalist in Art Petron in 2003.