Gilbert Semillano invites people to step into his world, filled with jaw-dropping creatures and extraordinary sceneries that defy conventions.

His art is firmly rooted in a narrative approach that is deeply personal, involving a process that taps into the depths of his subconscious to evoke imagery that is layered in a multitude of readings and sourced from a variety of literary and cultural tropes. From this, he populates his creature’s world with a landscape culled from the inner recesses of his imagination. It is a jarring depiction of a fantasy that nevertheless draws his viewers in through a considered and highly-nuanced philosophy. Semillano does this with great technique, lovingly crafting the imagery with a father’s loving care. It’s easy to think that Semillano’s works merely humorous, if slightly morbid, reflections of his own personal history. But look beyond that, and you’ll find his oeuvre is more aligned to a Mannerist’s fixation with allegory. Indeed, there are many similarities between, say, Semillano’s “Fragile Sensibilities I,” with the almost-Catholic allusion to the Sacred Heart, and Caravaggio’s “Amor Vincit Omnia,” and the image of cupid over all human endeavors.

Now an important international artist, with exhibitions in distinguished art spaces in Kuwait, Semillano brings his new works for a unique exhibition at Galerie Stephanie in Libis. More than a homecoming, this the heralding of a triumphant international artist and a new direction the Philippine art scene will do well to emulate.