Published January 21, 2021
In the paintings of Filipino artist Christian Tamondong, there's a lot more going on than vibrantly colorful shapes. They are fun appropriations of the modern and the childlike. Modern painting or Cezanne and Disney or pop silliness come together in a clash and jumble, for our sake.
Tamondong cranks up and simplifies the Cezanne adage "...treat nature by means of the cylinder, the sphere, the cone..." into his own kind of graphic flatness or blocky depth. He routinely uses colorful geometry to break up figures or build them into colorful patterns, so that his surfaces are decorated with explosive activity, mixed at times with appropriated cartoon phantasies and crayon scribblings.
Many of these patterns bring to mind those found 1950s and 1960s illustrations, the kind you see in children's books or advertising of that time. This was a time when modern art found its way into the popular consciousness as playful shapes and fashionable backdrops of life.
He seems to unconsciously turn to the pictorial language of well-known Modern art's masters as a resource for his graphic sensibilities. Arturo Luz, Paul Klee, Miro, and Cezanne immediately come to mind. This isn’t difficult to surmise as their pictorial styles have become part of our knee-jerk understanding of Modern painting. Thus, his approach to imagery is intuitive, one that results in resonating with our collective subconscious. And the main point seems to be for our pleasure, even if the themes he touches on can at times register sadness, anger, or disdain.
Christian Tamondong has had several solo exhibitions since 2003. Aside from top galleries in the Philippines, he has shown his work in auction houses and abroad in countries such as Singapore and Indonesia. He has won competitions such as the PLDT-DPC National Director Cover Visual Art Competition and the Art Association of the Philippines Annual Art Competition. In 2004, he was shortlisted for the Ateneo Art Awards.