Finding Mozart in the Theatrics of Edwin Wilwayco's 'Wave Cadenza'

On listening to the sound of color.

“Color directly influences the soul. Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another purposively, to cause vibrations in the soul.”
- Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art

There is a certain sound to color. And those who hear it the loudest are those who understand the mysticism of creation. Spirituality is enigmatic, as they say. That is what makes it the great wellspring of artistic ingenuity. Both are equally mysterious in how they evolve and evoke; the former, from an empty canvas while the latter, from a silent room.

In Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Kandinsky examines his theory of painting, as well as the ideas that influenced the modernists of his day. He talks about progression, improvisation, impression, and harmony, and the spiritual realms that art and inspiration occupy in the process of becoming. Kandinsky had something called "synesthesia." He basically experienced one of his senses through another. It wasn't a disease or a disorder, but rather, a gift. This means he saw color when he heard words and saw shapes when he heard music.

"Wave Cadenza III" (2022) by Edwin Wilwayco, Oil on Canvas.



Reimagining Ternos and the Modern Filipino Woman With Artist Anna Bautista

This Filipino Painter and Poet Is Unmasking the Transformative Nature of Persistence

Such is the case for Edwin Wilwayco’s latest exhibit, Wave Cadenza. The Nueva Ecija-born artist, who had studied under Jose Joya and Constancio Bernardo, has been a master of abstraction for close to 50 years now. Through his visual poetry, he has created formless concertos on canvases, one may say, with their dramatic gestures and fluid colors and shapes.

This new showcase is no different. We can call it another poetic chapter. Wave Cadenza is another formidable series in his illustrious career, further summoning and breaking down musical structure. In this case, he engages the viewer through the compositions of a dude named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. We might have heard of him.

"Wave Cadenza I" (2022) by Edwin Wilwayco, Oil on Canvas.

watch now

One may say that Mozart, set in the contemporary world, is only appreciated as a traditionalist within old-fashioned Classical systems. The counterpoint to that is that he was, indeed, a force of the contemporary before there had even been a contemporary. He was a rockstar in his prime, as we know (the portait of Mozart as the first pop star is a another conversation).

This guy rejected old Baroque values. He zagged as others zigged. His compositions encompassed a wide range of styles and sounds, from the jovial divertimento pieces to the more operatic epics that he has been synonymous with for centuries. His techniques would sort of usher in the innovations of the Romantic era, as well.

"Wave Cadenza VI" (2022) by Edwin Wilwayco, Oil on Canvas.


The rapid, manic pace in which Mozart operated created a cultural upheaval, in some ways. It was rebellious, especially for a young modern trapped in a Classical world. Perhaps we can credit him for the concept of gleeful seriousness? There's a childlike, dance-like, hearing-for-the-first-time-like wonder that happens upon first listening to Mozart, which Wilwayco has taken to heart for his latest exhibition. Both see the abundance of possibilities in art and spirituality. Both have compositions meant to harness drama and the boundlessness of creative force.


What do we really see when, let's say, we listen to "Horn Concerto No. 4" in E flat major? One may argue that we see waves. In his exploration of the physicality of Mozart's grand theatrics, Wilwayco carefully unravels the virtuoso's sound architecture.

This makes for explosive layers. We can see it in the curves, counter-curves, dissymmetry, and repetition of high and low expressions throughout the pieces in the exhibit. Of course, the paintings are classic Wilwayco: they're bold, vibrant, and energetic, with color arrangements that lull the viewer into a meditative state.

"Wave Cadenza XIV" (2022) by Edwin Wilwayco, Oil on Canvas.


We may also observe the various applications of paint mannerism in Wave Cadenza. Wilwayco's abstracted visuals have a variable, lively rhythm to them. We can sense dribbles, beats, and hums to each element, as seen in how the structure flows: the weaving of their colors, the blending of their motions, and the spontaneity of their values.

Of all things, they are clear and sublime in a Classical way, but exhibit a contemporary twist. Think about the instruments of the Ancien Regime or the Classic and Rocco periods: these are our harpsichord, violin, cello, flute, and fortepiano, among others. What these instruments did was capture those distinct loud-soft tones that had otherwise been too ambiguous before their inventions.

"Wave Cadenza VI" (2022) by Edwin Wilwayco, Oil on Canvas.


Nothing is imposed upon the viewers (or listeners), but the vigor of cadence. Wilwayco's compositions move around the same vague parameters of ideation and feeling that Mozart did, we can argue. Such is the case with the mystery of artistic prowess, we suppose.

For Wave Cadenza, the blend of lush and dense arrangements making its way through the soft and at-times operatic motions of the paintings create a harmony that allows for various interpretations. They are spectacles we don't necessarily have to understand, but hope to express and feel. The paintings are even louder in the blank space of the gallery halls, really. Maybe Mozart was right when he said that music isn't in the notes, but in the silences where it lingers.


The exhibition will run until October 22, 2022 at Galerie Joaquin in Powerplant Mall, Rockwell, Makati.

More Videos You Can Watch
About The Author
Bryle B. Suralta
Assistant Section Editor
Bryle B. Suralta is a Filipino cultural critic, editor, and essayist. He writes about art, books, travel, people, current events, and all the magic in between. His past work in film and media can be found on PeopleAsia Magazine, The Philippine Star, MANILA BULLETIN, and IMDB.
View Other Articles From Bryle
Latest Feed
Load More Articles
Connect With Us