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On Jemina Reyes and what she calls her ‘inflexive aesthetics’

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By Hannah Jo Uy

Design Layout by Pinggot Zulueta

Jemina Reyes

Intention, influence, and intuition—these are the pillars of Jemina Reyes’ conceptual theory of inflexive aesthetics. “These operate together in varying degrees, marking a change or a spark in the creative production,” she said, adding that this approach evolved as a way to streamline the creative process, which she described as “flexible and unpredictable.”

Known for her whimsy, Reyes goes beyond simply recreating the beauty of the natural world. She elevates its appearance by weaving her blissful reflections on the wisdom it holds. The reverence in which she approaches the canvas leads to works that exude a beauty beyond the superficial, almost in homage to divine wisdom.

Reyes’ love affair with art began when she was young. With encouragement from her family, instructors, and colleagues, her creative path was set as she dove headlong into an artistic career, during she also received an art scholarship. “I am gratified whenever my works bring happiness to people,” she said, “I believe this is a God-given gift. I also credit genetics’ role, since my mom is very artistic.”

The Gift, acrylic on canvas, 2017

The Gift, acrylic on canvas, 2017

The art scholarship drove Reyes to pursue an Art Studio degree at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She recalled that it was also during this time, her formative years, that she was exposed to abstract expressionism as well as to impressionist paintings like the works of Monet and Degas. “It was in college that I learned to appreciate abstract art,” she said. “After seeing one of my classmates develop her abstracts, I decided to try it. My professor then encouraged me to continue. I enjoyed the challenge.”

After her education, Reyes flew back to the Philippines and began exhibiting in 1996. For several years she balanced her work as an actively exhibiting artist and working for a multi-national company. By 2002, however, she became a full-time artist.

Fragile, acrylic on canvas, 2017

Fragile, acrylic on canvas, 2017

Nature is a constant source of inspiration for Reyes, who admits that much of her subject matter aims to highlight the beauty of “God’s creation.” As Leonardo da Vinci puts it: “Given the abundance of natural forms, it is important to go straight to nature.” It’s amazing how much inspiration and lessons I learn from them,” she said, who is also fascinated with color’s ability to convey emotions. “Colors are a language on their own,” she said.

Spiritual matters and specifically, biblical teachings have greatly impacted her creative philosophy. “Listening to the teachings of Ravi Zacharias, for instance, enabled me to create my ‘Union of Contrasts’ exhibit and helped me formulate my conceptual theory of inflexive aesthetics,” she explained, “The Scriptures serve as the foundation to my life, which translates to how I approach art.  My perception of beauty, for example, is still linked to goodness.  Though abstract art is known to be devoid of meaning, when I paint, I find it necessary to be in a right disposition mentally and emotionally.”

Encounter, acrylic on canvas, 2017

Encounter, acrylic on canvas, 2017

With a number of solo exhibitions under her belt, Reyes’ evolution has driven her away from associating her paintings solely as abstract impressionism. “As an artist-theorist, I see myself as an abstract inflexionist,” she said. “The audience perceives something different in my current collection.  I believe it is because I am more connected to my life’s purpose now. By taking care of the spiritual aspect of my life, the changes that happen in me are reflected in my works. It may be difficult to articulate, but it is sensed.”

The sensation of the sacred was apparent in Reyes’ latest show, “Inflexions,” unveiled recently at the Gallery Francesca, which served as an introduction to Reyes’ art practice to the public. Showcasing 26 paintings that exemplified her aesthetic style by means of inflexions, Reyes shared that she intentionally wanted to capture the essence of the floral. “I used fresh roses to be directly influenced by them as I painted. My choice of colors, marks, and gestures were done by intuitive decisions until I was artistically satisfied with the outcome.”

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