Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Continuing the Legacy: Nixxio and Ovvian Castrillo Exhibit New Works

An artist has many foundations in which to anchor his or her work. Nixxio and Ovvian Castrillo, sculptors and children of the late Eduardo Castrillo have chosen to anchor their practices to that of their father. More than a passing on of techniques, there is also a physical aspect to this anchor, as they also use the same Cavite studio that their late father used.

In this manner, Eduardo Castrillo — whose monuments are scattered throughout Manila — can live forever through his children. But it is also telling how Castrillo also saw Nixxio and Ovvian as his own anchor. Through their works, they are preserving Castrillo’s legacy as a pioneering and visionary artist, and reminding people about the immensity of Castrillo’s achievements. But through his inspiration, Nixxio and Ovvian carve out a path as artists in their own right — and their success is perhaps the ultimate honor they can bestow on their father.

The two sculptors come together in a joint exhibition at Galerie Joaquin which opens September 14, 2016 and runs until September 30. Entitled “Anchor: Homage to Eduardo Castrillo,” the exhibition honors the late Eduardo Castrillo through the unique individual sculptural practices of his children.

“Anchor,” is in many ways, a way to close a chapter in what has been a lifetime apprenticeship for the two — particularly Nixxio. “I have been assisting dad ever since as a kid,” he says, “eventually graduating to being his manager. What I did was mark the logistics which makes things easier for him, so he can focus on his art, which was very personal to him. I prepared the material, and everything. Once in a while, he would see the things [art] that I did, and he would encourage me to be an artist as well.”

“Sometimes people don’t understand what it takes to create these monuments,” Ovvian adds. “It entails a bit of everything, art and design of course. My father was an exceptional draftsman. But the scale of these monuments also entails engineering, logistics, coordination with the local government to manage the site, many things. This is something we have learned from.”

“Aside from us creating dad’s work, we’re also finding ourselves as artists with our own style,” says Nixxio. “We would like it to be different, something we can call our own. And something dad will be proud of. Hopefully, we will be able to showcase our own talent.”

It was Ovvian who first started dabbling in her own, exhibiting a work in the lobby of the Shangri-La Hotel in Makati in 2002. From there, she had her first one-woman exhibition in 2005, and an exhibition at the Hans Brumann Gallery in Greenbelt in 2008. “When I started doing sculpture, I asked my dad if maybe I should put up my own studio,” she recalls. “He said, what for? You have everything you need right here. If you put up your own, you have to spend on equipment, material. Just do it here. That answer alone shows how supportive he is.”

While the influence of Eduardo Castrillo in Ovvian’s works cannot be denied, there is also stark differences in form. “I think my work is slightly more feminine,” she explains. “I’m fonder of lines that close, that are tied together. The shape, the form, may not be organic, but my finish is. Some people even mistake it for wood. It’s almost a reverse of what my father would do, since his forms were organic but his finishes were inorganic. But we’re evolving into it, and I’m still experimenting.”

Nixxio took a different path, learning directly as the manager of his father’s studio. “I loved being on the sidelines, seeing all his designs come to fruition,” he says. “And I learned a lot from it. Little by little, I started creating my own stuff. But that’s how it started, with the support of my family.”

“Nixxio, out of all of us, is the one who is artistically inclined,” adds Ovvian. “Even in university, people would ask him to do doodles, design their t-shirts. For us, that was really neat — that a design you came up with in your head is being used as a t-shirt.”

Nixxio is also very philosophical with how his works diverge from his father’s. “Dad’s artworks are somewhat angular,” he says. “In my case, I like making things linear, with cubes and rectangular shapes. Growing up, I always imagined myself as a shadow when helping my dad. And what appealed to me the most were the angles his works would create. That has influenced my own art. Of course, my studies in architecture also has made an impact.” This is most apparent in how his artwork interacts with the environment, creates canyons and valleys of shadows between the lines.

“The new works here are symbolic, like a chrysalis,” he adds. “I sort of feel like I’m breaking out of my own chrysalis.” True enough, it is by honoring their father’s legacy that Nixxio and Ovvian have discovered their own potential as artists. Somehow, we can be sure that this is what Eduardo Castrillo would have wanted.

Galerie Joaquin is located at 371 P. Guevarra Street, corner Montessori Lane, Addition Hills, San Juan. They may be reached through their landline at (632) 659-2667 or email at

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