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Roland Llarena

April 1- 29, 2023

Press Release

In Art We Trust

In the 19th century, among the few possessions of the reclusive monks in their respective rooms is a human skull on their bedside tables. Not to serve as paper weight but it is a grim reminder to be holy because you will eventually die.

Balaan (holy in Hiligaynon), a solo exhibition of Roland Llarena, seeks to be this gentle reminder as he essays in paper and perforated steel metal sheets the beauty of impermanence by instilling sacredness in people as God is supreme in his holiness.

Done in new mixed media Llarena explores creatively his artistic pursuits--as he unravels the virtues leading up to how to be a good man--in these difficult times.

Like the moon, a halo is a disk-like or circle of light shown surrounding or above the head of a saint, angels or holy person, A representation on spiritual character through the symbolism of light, it started in Hellenistic and Roman Art, the sun-god Helios and Roman emperors often appear with a crown of rays over their sovereignty

To be holy is to follow God’s will and glorify Him. The main piece, Be Ye Holy for I am Holy, involves 50 works on paper pertaining to God who expects us to be holy as He is himself seen in the gold halo. There are two men in this world. One with white halo those who are good. One who have black halo are the bad ones. Using rubber cut Llarena smudges black ink on paper then paints with silver brushstrokes in abstract fashion. For white part, he uses silver paint. The separation of good and evil is glaring even in art production.

Being a Christian first before he is an artist, Llarena only reacts to what he sees or feels when he is with his friends or people in his community in Iloilo.

Last year as he was exploring materials in a junk shop, he chance upon steel perforated sheets used in air-conditioners. As artists, one grapples new materiality in finding fresh visual language on how to best express one’s ideas in his bespoke aesthetics.

Black Halos 1-3 features the world is full of evil as Llarena demonstrates using oil paint as primer and black automotive paint over it.

Who is holy? How to be holy? In the Bible holiness appeared 900 times in the Old and New Testament. Black Halo and Gold Halo refers to what the scriptures say, we must repent and ask forgiveness is the initial path back to God.

In between good and evil is Stainless Halo 1 and 2 pertain to absence of color and values. Llarena alludes this to manipulative and fake people—those who are good when you meet them but betray you at your back. This is Llarena is most effective as he reflects his materials to the message in his art pieces.

In Christian iconography red halos are referred to martyrs, white to virgins and pure people. Green to confessors, purple to penitents, blue to saints. The devil or Jude Iscariot is black. Initially halos were only reserved to Jesus and Mary. Eventually it was used in the apostles and saints after Jesus died In Balaan, art becomes adhoc mementoes for the living that seek to instill in us the values of holiness that we are capable of making this world better than when we found it and when God originally created it.

Jay Bautista

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