As a Freemason of Pintong Bato Lodge #51 of Bacoor, Cavite, Hipolito's leap of imagination started when he was hired as artist by Basic/Foot Cone and Belding Advertising in 1990. After working as an art director in Saudi Arabia until 1996, he proceeded to develop his well-accepted, distinctive style that he called Composite Realism, which blends painting with production design, photography and digital art.
Unafraid to experiment, he synergized all his influences and knowledge to evolve the self-developed style, a take off from hyperrealism. Working in the multi-cultural mode that combined genre painting, portrait, still life, landscape and animal painting, he came up with contemporary anecdotal works of rural Romanticism.
Through Hipolito's paintings, usually family and friends in bonding, conjuring the good life, either moving a house in bayanihan spirit or rejoicing in a fiesta, they turn into variations of a single motif, that is, happy Filipinos in various poses of a delighted observance of the Filipino heritage: our bravery, our spirituality, our responsibility, our generosity, our pride, our beauty, resiliently and more importantly, our smile.
But that was not an easy start. As he was a relative newcomer in the Philippine art scene, Hipolito had to operate an eatery from culinary skills learned in Singapore and his savings as an overseas Filipino worker. At the same time, he started to develop a market by vending his paintings accompanied by his youngest son Alvin. It was no easy task as sometimes they ended up using their paintings to shield them from the elements.
With excellent artistry, good public relations and persistence, his break came in small measures until his Composite Realism style caught the eye of Carlos Arellano of the Social Security System for their "optimism and joy of life" and gave him commissions.
In 2008, Hipolito joined award-winning visual artists Camille de la Rosa, Orly Ypon and Bernardo Maac in the joint exhibit Varied Palettes at the Art Center of SM Megamall. The most senior in the group at 49, he has never lost his fresh heart, a characteristic clearly apparent in his art, where he portrays children having fun and adults enjoying the good life.
As his "happy paintings" always show people with heartfelt smiles, the style has become his signature, marking him as "The Smile Painter." His portraits of former Presidents Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo, as well as Fernando Poe, Jr., show the public figures all wearing dignified smiles.
Featured on television and in print media, Hipolito and his paintings have also appeared in the art books Different Faces of Mother and Child, Structural Art by Philippine Artists, Flora and Fauna in Philippines Art and Green Art, An Environmental Advocacy. Hallmark greeting cards and Philippine stamps have featured his paintings. Nestle and Pan de Manila were so captivated by his idyllic paintings that they used them in past advertising campaigns.
For the Papal visit of the country in 2015, Hipolito painted the oil on canvas entitled Salubong featuring high-profile personalities wearing farm clothes in vibrant rural realism. Multimedia coverage turned it from viral to controversial, making it his most celebrated masterpiece and a most important work of the Papal visit.
While observing 25 years of Filipino Heritage this year, Hipolito passed away of a heart attack on Jan. 24, 2016. He was an accomplished artist and a fulfilled man. ARTlead elevated him to its Hall of Fame as Master Painter for his outstanding contribution in the advancement of Filipino arts and culture. Bakusi Foundation also awarded him Natatanging Pintor na Tagataguyod ng Sining-Biswal.
HEIR APPARENT. Before this rebirth, Hipolito started work on Harana sa Tanghaling-tapat, a painting that depicts Alden Richards serenading Maine Mendoza as Yaya Dub, garbed as farmers, while Ryzza Mae Dizon as Yaya Luvs and Sebastian Benedict as Bae-by Baste enjoy the bounty of the earth.
A depiction of the phenomenal Aldub romance in an imagined provincial setting, it comes with a twist: Vic Sotto, Sen. Tito Sotto and Joey de Leon act as Lola Nidora, Lola Tinidora and Lola Tidora. Like diehard admirers, Hipolito casts himself and wife Carmen in the afternoon gathering, along with Marian Rivera and Baby Zia.
Who will finish the painting?
Hipolito's eldest son, Alvin, who is a professional in Composite Realism, is an expert in his father's color palette and painting techniques.
"Alvin is a great revelation as a true artist himself, a big promise to continue Dante's Composite Realism genre and beyond!" US-based expert digital artist Jaime Torres commented about Alvin's completed output.
Hipolito trained Alvin to be his replacement. He acts as the benevolent authority over his younger brothers, Paolo and Glenn. Hipolito liked imparting his knowledge of art to his all-boy brood by giving paper and colors, teaching them its rudiments. He also infrequently posed his sons as models in his paintings. This definitely instilled love of art in Alvin whose paintings have been anthologized in three art books since he was 17.
While he was a sacristan of Cardinal Tagle, then a bishop, in special masses, a priest assigned in Bacoor and other wardens learned about this painting genius. The Bishop sponsored Alvin's first solo exhibit entitled Pious Pieces in celebration of the blessing of the Bishop's House located beside the Imus Cathedral in Cavite in Dec. 2008.
After lying low for 25 years as a member of Pintong Bato Lodge #51, Dante was persuaded to reactivate his membership in 2014 by the young Hipolito, who wanted his father to sponsor his entry. This, he did. Acting as his father's art consultant, Alvin was put in charge of the sales of paintings, including commissioned works and art gallery coordination.
That same year, Alvin was inducted as a member and has been active ever since. The common purpose serves him well as his fraternity brothers act as his solid support system. During Hipolito's wake at La Bien Memorial Chapels, they honored him with a tribute.
Hipolito's leap of imagination lives in Alvin.
For his 27th birthday, Alvin and his kuyangs, as he calls his Masonry brothers, being its youngest member, celebrated it with an Easter Egg Hunt with marginalized children of the families in the vicinity of Pintong Bato Lodge #51 as participants. Bro. Basilio "Kuyang Beng" Solis Jr., Alvin's supporter in Lodge activities including charity projects and wife Lolit prepared the party prizes.
Harana sa Tanghaling-tapat can be viewed at the Hipolito Studio located at Blk. 10 Lot 42 San Rafael Executive Villa, Habay 1, Bacoor City, Cavite. Contact Alvin Hipolito for commission portraits and paintings and party needs via mobile 0998-227-4713 (Smart) or 0916-778-3636 (Globe).