Jason Montinola treats his works as if they are his children, as offspring to his vision that will, over time, define his legacy as an artist. It is no surprise that he showers them with all his attention, nurturing, and time until they can fluently speak the visual language he wanted them to convey. In the end, Montinola doesn’t want to talk about his paintings. He wants them to “talk about” him.
Sinister, which is on view at West Gallery from June 28 to July 16, is Montinola’s 7th one-man exhibit. He sees it as a continuation of his previous exhibits, this time putting a new spin on the “characters” that fascinate him and motivate him to explore new artistic ground. Much of his inspiration came from a recent trip to Europe, visiting Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Romania, and Germany to rediscover the arts and culture he has previously read only in books. There, he learned more about Hitler as a leader who used to dabble in painting in his youth (thus, coming up with “The One Who Paints the Town Red”) and Spanish painter Diego Velazquez, whose portraits of Margaret Theresa of Spain have been a huge influence in his works. He did not spend as much time painting or doing studies in a foreign land, preferring to immerse himself more with the culture and the history that bred progressive, free-thinking artists, from Caravaggio to Rembrandt.
And for Montinola, it was such a priceless learning experience, to study layering from the works of the masters and to see the ornate architectural details of old European churches. It taught him further to think about what part of a painting must be highlighted, and, at the same time, to define the background and ambience so viewers could “enter” the painting, which aims to flesh out an artist’s idea and generate an emotional reaction.
Montinola’s cast of characters, from one-eyed world leaders to masked individuals and silenced subjects, all reunite to recreate this dark, sinister scenario.