Illuminating Portraits: Denmark Maribojoc’s “As Light Whispers”

In his latest solo exhibition, “As Light Whispers,” Denmark Maribojoc takes inspiration from the European masters to create powerful portraits that illuminate women at the center of their narratives.

Light and dark play a pivotal role in Denmark Maribojoc’s latest solo exhibition As Light Whispers at Art Underground. Women with caricatured faces that feel familiar yet ethereal lie at the center of each portrait in his collection. Their lingering gazes are intense, yet they exude a dainty, gentle sophistication. 

Denmark Maribojoc’s “Summer Nights” (30 x 24 inches) and “Quiet Melancholy” (48 x 36 inches), both oil on canvas 
L-R: Denmark Maribojoc’s “Summer Nights” (30 x 24 inches) and “Quiet Melancholy” (48 x 36 inches), both oil on canvas 

On every canvas, Maribojoc masterfully utilizes the technique of chiaroscuro, most evident in the work of European masters like Caravaggio and Rembrandt. Subjects sit or stand in a dark room, bathed in the soft light—or one might say “whispers” of light, hence the exhibition’s title. The dramatic effect juxtaposes the tranquil depictions of these women, resulting in works that are powerful but not intimidating. 

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Denmark Maribojoc
Denmark Maribojoc next to his work, “Quiet Melancholy” (48 x 36 inches, oil on canvas) 

Autonomous Women

Though Maribojoc’s female subjects possess a genteel sophistication, they’re by no means passive. Their gazes are purposeful, echoing the autonomy they have over their activities. They turn to look at the viewer mid-action, whether that’s reading the notes of a violin piece, posing under the shade of a parasol, or holding a pitcher. These women invite the viewer into a silent dialogue, fully-aware of their central role in the narrative.  

Maribojoc’s “Resurgence” (48 x 36 inches, oil on canvas)
Maribojoc’s “Resurgence” (48 x 36 inches, oil on canvas)

“Women are the symbol of life; they represent the life-giving and caring aspects of humanity. They are strong and resilient individuals that can overcome challenges and adversity on their own,” explained Maribojoc during a media gathering. 

Maribojoc’s “Gentle Strings” (30 x 24 inches, oil on canvas)
Maribojoc’s “Gentle Strings” (30 x 24 inches, oil on canvas)

“Before, women used to be seen as weak since their role was simply inside a house, but as time went by, women became appreciated by society and suddenly symbolized freedom and liberation,” he added.

Behind the Process

Maribojoc works with dozens of reference photos to create his female characters, collaborating with a digital artist who manipulates the photos to achieve his caricatured visions. Then, the young artist gets to painting, establishing a dark background before painting the rest of the portrait. 

Maribojoc’s “Effortless Grace” (48 x 36 inches, oil on canvas)
Maribojoc’s “Effortless Grace” (48 x 36 inches, oil on canvas)

Maribojoc started using oil paints in 2020, and considering the complexities of the medium (and its slow-drying properties), the level of detail and prowess of his work in such a short period of time is astounding. As the adage goes, practice makes perfect, and the artist has been drawing every day since he started taking art seriously during the pandemic (though he’s been sketching since he was a child).

Maribojoc’s “Warm Adoration” (48 x 36, oil on canvas)
Maribojoc’s “Warm Adoration” (48 x 36, oil on canvas)

All the paintings exhibited in As Light Whispers were completed in 2023. That’s because Maribojoc works on pieces simultaneously, letting a few dry while moving onto the next painting. His work ethic is something to admire, and the key behind his healthy relationship with Art Underground. 

Representatives of the gallery have attested that Maribojoc is nothing but receptive to feedback, always striving to surpass what’s been done and look for new ways to hone his craft. 

A Unique Vision

Maribojoc’s unique perspective already caught the attention of the gallery a few years back, and it’s no wonder why. His attention to detail and eagerness to learn, improve, and transcend the boundaries of his previous works only increase his potential to rise to greater artistic heights. 

In his previous exhibition with Art Underground, Maribojoc explored a myriad of sensations emanating from simple and modest objects. However, in As Light Whispers, the artist examines a more compact and direct relationship with serenity and individuality. 

Maribojoc’s “Quiet Melancholy” (48 x 36 inches, oil on canvas)
Maribojoc’s “Quiet Melancholy” (48 x 36 inches, oil on canvas)

“To magnify such calm and collected emotions, the artist lets the light peek through a dark room and gently rest on his female subjects, allowing their beauty to slowly come into view,” wrote the exhibition’s official press release. 

Lifestyle Asia asked the artist what the most enjoyable aspect of creating the pieces in his latest collection was. Maribojoc replied: “The way it challenges me is one of the (sic) enjoyable things in creating each piece of artwork. I believe that the more it challenges me, the more I develop.”

Maribojoc’s “Summer Nights” (30 x 34 inches, oil on canvas)
Maribojoc’s “Summer Nights” (30 x 34 inches, oil on canvas)

To Maribojoc, viewers’ receptions of his work are the fruit of his efforts. “As an artist receiving positive feedback from the viewers makes me more confident and proud of myself [for accomplishing this] at a very young age when I never thought I could,” he told Lifestyle Asia. Very young indeed, as Maribojoc is only in his early 20s and already experienced his first sold-out solo exhibition. 

Ever the hard worker, the artist is already preparing for future exhibitions that will delve into new concepts while still exhibiting the chiaroscuro technique. 

“As Light Whispers” by Denmark Maribojoc is on view at Art Underground until October 6, 2023. Art Underground is located at 2F Mabini180, 180 A. Mabini, Brgy. Addition Hills, San Juan, Metro Manila, and is open 10AM – 7PM during Monday to Saturday. For inquiries, you may email [email protected].

Photos courtesy of Art Underground. 

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