Nelson Castillo “Father of Philippine Miniature Paintings”
by Jennifer Bichara
Nelson Castillo is an internationally renowned Filipino-American artist who was born in Alaminos Laguna on April 11, 1944. In 1964, Castillo received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila. He began painting miniatures in 1968 and was noted as the “Father of Miniature Painting” in the Philippines in 1979. He is also the father of “Janddie Castillo,” the acclaimed “Wisik” artist known for his symphony of splashes, splatters and swiping strokes as well as his miniature stone art.
All of Nelson Castillo’s paintings are one of a kind original work of art. He paints mostly with oil paints and acrylics whose chosen miniature subjects are landscapes, flowers, animals, and sometimes, he dabbles in nudes.
The miniature “Parañaque Train” acrylic on canvas has an element hiding in plain sight of the abstraction of the clouds and mountains. The dark skies fade with the soft cloud of dust upon the horizon of dark grey, golden browns and yellows. Although the picture is greatly magnified, it does not always show the fine details of the train and delicate colors that can be seen when viewed closely.
In order to appreciate his art fully, you must be near them and bring your nose to the canvas. The closer you get to the worlds inside these paintings, the more you’re certain to discover: an astounding fluster of colour, or a line moving with the languorous fluidity of the clouds.
Nelson Castillo miniatures reveal different experiences. His paintings are on a small scale that has a physical, as well as psychological, intimacy that large scale paintings cannot divulge. Its manifestation allows the viewer to analyze and dissect the work for technical process. His miniatures are on scale of one-to-one and on a more personal level which serves as a window to his intimate world, a reminder of his past, and a glimpse of his contained memory.
Nelson Castillo’s work invites an intimate exchange with his viewers. One fostered by the full bodied sense of wistfulness about them. We can’t help but feel as though we’re witnessing something we have always known existed. But have never quite been lucky enough to see in magnified form.