Carlos Trinidad's art forges on 'Ad Meliora,’ for the better 2
Carlos Trinidad and his work 'Morning Blessings.' Handout

Carlos Trinidad's art forges on 'Ad Meliora,’ for the better

As viewers immerse themselves in Carlos Esteban Trinidad's abstract creations, they are encouraged to reflect on their own pursuit of improvement and personal fulfillment.
Lito B. Zulueta | Feb 23 2024

In “Ad Meliora,” which opens at Altro Mondo in Makati on February 24, painter Carlos Esteban Trinidad presses forward in the abstract transition he had announced in “Metanoia.” 

The last exhibit, whose title is Greek for “conversion,” signaled Trinidad’s change of heart from representation to abstraction. Not that Trinidad had gotten tired or was repentant of the figurative idiom in which he started painting: female figures and portraits along the tropical romantic grammar and even earlier on, cockfight scenes and figures along the folk-art genre. It is just that a true artist necessarily starts with materiality and representation and progresses to grater abstraction and finer spirituality as he matures. 

Thus, Trinidad’s art forges on “Ad Meliora,” Latin for “for the better” or, as the descriptive title in English of the exhibit puts it, “For the Pursuit of the Better.”

 'Being Motivated' (acrylic on paper)
'Being Motivated' (acrylic on paper)

Furthermore, it is expected that Trinidad should reflect in his own artistic journey, the path taken by other modernists who have progressed from classic figuration to more distilled or “abstracted” representations. In fact, his influences include modern-art icons who moved from the folk-art genre to its more modernist (abstracted) versions, such as Manansala and Baldemor. At the University of Santo Tomas, too, his teachers included first- and second-generation modernists: Diosdado Lorenzo, Angelito Antonio, Leonardo Hidalgo, Rolando Alib, Andres Cristobal, and Mario Parial.

‘Joy, hope, growth’

Perhaps because in “Metanoia” Trinidad was emerging from the anxiety and disquietude of the COVID-19 pandemic, the paintings there were characterized by somber colors and tenebrous textures. In contrast in “Ad Meliora,” the acrylic colors are vibrant and even sunny, the textures are ebullient, celebratory. 

'Creating Interest' (acrylic on paper)
'Creating Interest' (acrylic on paper)

In fact in his artist’s statement, Trinidad declares his intention is “to project a sense of joy, hope, and progressive growth.” He adds that he’s aiming for “abstract works that express the beauty of the unforeseen,” which may be taken to mean works that pulsate with the excitement of open possibilities.

For Trinidad, his paintings express if not embody his artistic journey, his creative exploration and sense of discovery. In “Metanoia,” he spoke of “deconstructing” his old style and arriving at abstraction. In “Ad Meliora,” it could be said he’s consolidating that “deconstructed” style, inviting the viewer to further exploration and discovery of unexpected elements such as shapes, lines, shadows, and colors in unconventional contexts, leading to fresh perspectives and creative opportunities.

 'Emerging Victorius' 
'Emerging Victorius' 

Drawing inspiration from his own experiences and observations, Trinidad infuses his acrylic abstracts (on canvas or on paper) with layers of meaning and symbolism. Each artwork in the show serves as a vibrant canvas for exploring different facets of the human experience, employing bold brushstrokes, intricate compositions, and a riot of colors.

Artistic journey

Trinidad's artistic vision is deeply rooted in his belief in the transformative power of art. As he eloquently puts it in his artist's statement, "My objective is to be as current and aware as possible throughout the creative exercise and to project a sense of joy, hope, and progressive growth." Through his art, Trinidad seeks to communicate the quiet yet dynamic rhythms of life, embracing the unforeseen beauty found in the ebb and flow of existence.

Trinidad's commitment to personal and social transformation shines through in his artistic process. He views each artwork as an opportunity to push boundaries, experiment with new techniques, and explore uncharted territory. "I believe in progress, continuous learning, and opportunities to make better pieces," he explains.

 'Finding a Way' (acrylic on paper)
'Finding a Way' (acrylic on paper)

As viewers immerse themselves in Carlos Esteban Trinidad's abstract creations, they are encouraged to reflect on their own pursuit of improvement and personal fulfillment. Through his art, he invites viewers to embrace change, celebrate progress, and find beauty in the unexpected. In a world that is constantly evolving, his vibrant canvases serve as beacons of hope and inspiration for all who seek to embark on their own journey “semper Ad Meliora,” that is, “always for the better.”

Carlos Esteban Trinidad’s “Ad Meliora” runs till March 16 at the Altro Mondo Creative Space, 159 Chino Roces Ave, Makati City.