Forces of nature » Manila Bulletin Lifestyle


The artist Demosthenes Campos presents a more refined discussion of a subject he holds most dear—the environment


By Hannah Jo Uy

Images by Pinggot Zulueta

The subtle yet dynamic pulse of nature triggers life as we know it. It is a profound and precise energy that strikes the balance between creation and destruction, life and death, manifesting itself in the growth and decay of flora, fauna, and other species thriving on earth. Demosthenes Campos has been fascinated with capturing this waltz of nature and projecting it onto the canvas through all and every means necessary. But what sets him apart from contemporaries who also aim to capture this force is his ability to zero in on the slightest of changes that are overlooked in the face of bigger natural transformations.

  • Sprout I, mixed media, 2017

  • Sprout II, mixed media, 2017

  • EnzoArt 263, mixed media, 2017

Campos’ drive to capture this subtlety has led him to pursue a more experimental approach. Conceptually, he continues to showcase a more mature understanding of nature by spotlighting its different facets and stages. In a more material sense, Campos has incorporated a number of other unique elements to his work to add more texture, complexity, and movement. Unexpected elements such as sticks, acrylic glass with holes, and test tubes add further depth to his works. These additions mark his evolution as an artist. Indeed, the works represent a progress toward a more refined discussion of a subject that the artist holds most dear—the environment.

Creating according to his mood and often inspired by music, Campos also continues to showcase spontaneity, which injects the collection with a thoughtful, reflective quality. His work ethic underlines the importance of giving into the cathartic process while employing self-imposed discipline, a delightful marriage between control and intuition.

This was evident in Campos’ recent show at the West Gallery, “Sibol.” In “Sibol,” he shares 10 pieces that have been inspired by the hues and movement of nature, while incorporating his muted shades that present a sort of urbane, modern, and streamlined aesthetic.

In this collection, he goes a step further by offering a concrete narrative that zeroes in on the most profound, and perhaps most overlooked, natural process: Growth. Pertaining to the blossom that emerges to signal the spring season, “Sibol” sees life slowly taking hold and through a seed growing to face what destiny has in store.

Part of Campos’ endless fascination with nature, aside from its life-giving properties, is its natural process of decay. In one work, Erosion, Campos offers a geological snapshot. Using his excellent command of hues, he manages to add depth and dimension to what can otherwise be considered a very two-dimensional image. The textures, cracks, and uneven quality show how the soil is worn by time, heaving sigh of exhaustion in its battle against wind, water, and other forces.

In Sprout, a series of paintings in ascending sizes, Campos uses mixed media to represent the seeds’ fight to penetrate the soil and burst into life. The serial nature in which he discusses this process underlines the tension, the warfare of the process, lifting the seeds as protagonists that audiences cheer for and growth as the antagonist to overcome.

The favorite of Campos, however, is a piece entitled The Flowers Already Grew. “I chose this piece because it explains how new life can form in a dry place. It means that there is always hope,” he said. In this piece we see the seeds stretching out to introduce themselves to the world as the small buds develop. It alludes to a certain injection of life, and points out the endless possibilities that come with simply being.

In other works, Campos has already presented flora and fauna, in the same muted palettes distinctive of his pieces, which feature the lush greenery of forests teeming with life, an unfathomable beauty that exists only in the natural world.

In his meticulous narration of this process, however, the beauty of nature was enhanced to have a deeper meaning. It gives prominence to life, and all the processes within it which we must never take for granted. Thus, it is a narrative that promotes respect for all beings, whether seeds, flora, fauna, or our fellow humans, and the very world we live in.

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