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Order And Chaos

CEBU, Philippines - Anya Unchuan, manager of Cebu White Sands at Maribago Beach, said that when Aird offered to paint in order to raise funds for typhoon victims, they were surprised to find out that this amiable and fun-loving guest is actually a well-known abstract expressionist back in England.

A harmonious fusion of order and chaos, is how Philippe Aird defines his work. A renowned painter based in England, Cebu was fortunate to host Aird as he lent his talent to help victims of Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.

Anya Unchuan, manager of Cebu White Sands at Maribago Beach, said that when Aird offered to paint in order to raise funds for typhoon victims, they were surprised to find out that this amiable and fun-loving guest is actually a well-known abstract expressionist back in England.

In fact, Aird’s distinction as an artist earned him a documentary aired over one of UK’s top TV stations. Aird served as an art lecturer in a university, has won awards, displayed his creations in the world’s art capitals, and has works in both public and private collections in Spain, U.S.A., Canada, Australia, and Japan. At present, he maintains a studio, the Phoenix Gallery, just outside Manchester City.

Aird’s intention in coming to the Philippines, however, had nothing to do with his art. He was here to have a vacation, a break from his spontaneous routine, from the call of the chaotic creativity that fed his artistic undertakings.

“When I came to the Philippines, it stopped that routine. But here I am again,” he quipped.

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Induplicable Style

Aird’s work can be described as abstract expressionism. As with all abstract paintings, his subject may not be revealed on first glance. One would need to look inside in order to understand his work.

One thing is for sure, though, when it comes to this spontaneous style, it can’t be duplicated, not even by the artist himself.

“No two pieces can be the same. I tried. Every day, I tried. Disaster after disaster. I can’t do it,” he admitted.

When it comes to color, he said: “I like bright, cheerful, crisp, fresh colors (because) it cheers me up.”

And with the resin medium, the colors come out as the shapes eventually rise, embossed on the surface on which the masterpiece is drawn.

The final outcome is a painting with the beautiful colors dripping all over the canvass. A beautiful lyrical composition that would remind you of Mozart’s Symphony No. 40: A calm start, a sudden climax in the middle, with a hint of confusion, of conflict, and leaving the listener breathless in the end.

In fact, it could easily be imagined, Aird working on a piece with this symphony playing in the background: Splashing and dripping the resin all over the canvass, then meticulously and sharply adding the colors here and there. Emotions swell as the work progresses, no pause, no time to breath, just going and going and going, until finally the creation is unveiled - bright, colorful, cosmic, orgasmic.

The medium

Although Aird’s style may not be new to many art collectors in the city, his medium is. His resin concoction, a product of over 15 years of experimentation, creates an illusion of a stained glass, allowing for the colors to come alive, and the shapes to smoothly blend with the surface.

He confessed that the effect of his work is like that of amber as he good-humoredly professed that some insects were unfortunate to have landed on his wet paint and got fossilized. What came to my mind was Jurassic Park and the fossilized prehistoric mosquito.

Aird revealed that despite the unpredictability of the medium, this did not stop him to also work with the medium for figurative paintings. And the medium also allowed him to work on different surfaces, as he experiments on its effect, the colors, and the over-all impact of the work on such surfaces.

In this collection, Aird worked with GI sheets, glass, and canvass.

Inspiration from the guts

So, how does this unconventional artist come up with his creations?

“From the stomach,” he said. “The emotions, the feelings, the intuition. I get an order, a direction, and the more I follow the paint, there’s something that directs me. So, I leave it to chance when I paint. Something guides me, like a force that I follow.”

He added, “I might have an idea at first, that sets off, but that changes. It suggests another idea and then another one. Ideas breed as I work. I can’t stop it, I can’t stop that process.”

Despite his serendipitous approach to painting, he confessed that he also takes inspiration from nature, from catastrophes, like a raging volcano. He admitted that the chaos that surrounds him is a source of inspiration.

Flowers, the cosmos, water, magma, and yes, the body – or make that, the insides of the body.

But whatever subject Aird’s work may shape into, one thing can be observed. Amidst the quite borders is a chaotic world that in itself organizes into a form, a shape, an impression that will definitely capture the imagination and the guts of the observer.

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