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The art of SYM-from Batman Cartoons to Conservatism

By Mercy S. Tolentino 1976

Sym is Sofronio Y. Mendoza. He is one of those who have turned the direction of Philippine art from abstractionism back to conservatism or representational art. His choice of subjects and the realistic effect of his impressionistic brush strokes express what he declares as the truthfulness of the artist to the environment and the people and his experience with both. It is the perception of the artist, as already philosophized by his working knowledge of some bare facts of living, which gives the substance, the souls of his works, he says.

One -man Show
SYM displays his recent oils, watercolors and pastel works in his 6th one-man show at the ABC Galleries, Harrison Plaza starting November 4 through November 14. SYM is recipient of six major prizes in six major international painting contests. He is one representational painter shi learned to draw comic characters first before he leaned to write his name. SYM's interest in art was indeed manifested early as early his crying over an airplane which vanished behind the miscoloring of a cloud of blue on a ruled Grades 1 paper. His talent continued to be cultivated -from his batman cartoons in exchange for notebooks to sketches of the captain of the ship during his first trip to Manila, this time in exchange for a first confronted with the big city whose first brush with it and with its frank roamed the streets of Mabini in search for his friend's friends, for whoever will give him a job and whoever will help him pursue his art.

His hard rural life took on a different shade in the city. He had to miss his meals and has to spend some nights on the cold Luneta walks. But SYM was growing in experience and in self-confidence.

After his UST and UE fine arts years and after having shows, exhibited in 11 different shows, he gained full mastery of all the media in painting. As such, his control of oil, watercolor, pastel and charcoal has enabled his to "artistically philosophize" everyday scenes and events and sum them op in significant compositions.

His works being exhibited at ABC Galleries beat the mark of maturity, of consummation of style and innovative techniques and of beautiful elevation of everyday scenes into universal and timeless events and experiences in art.

Consider his "Market Vendor" (pastel): The intense strokes focus the viewer's eyes to the center of interest the back of the vendor's heavy flow of a piece of cloth around the head shoes tilt together raised arm conveys the hard day's work and the long hard wait.

In "City Streets" (watercolor), SYM portrays a gloomy array of run-down hoses that bear the mark of past several decades lining empty streets on which reads a depict the passing of time and the turning of eras. In his "Madonna and Child" in pastel, SYM regards woman as the center of creation and thus regards her with affection. His strokes take on a gentle lightness and fragility. Soft lines, intricate curls, the fluid lightness of tough, an affectionate look, the innocent dependence of the baby as he rests his head the unspoken endearment all seen to breathe life into the work.

But until this time, SYM still feels that he has not fully embodied the workings of his mind and his emotions in his art. He still craves for a higher level of artistic expression. Sym is indeed and eternal student of the forces of the earth and man.