If Trees Could Talk

I’ll be participating in a group show organized by Canvas Gallery this September entitled “If Trees Could Talk”. The show opens on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014 (4pm) at the Asian Center Museum, University of the Philippines, Diliman. The exhibit runs until Sept. 19, 2014.

if trees could talk poster

Here’s my work. :)

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“Tuktok”, 32 x 40 in. Oil on Canvas

Never Forget

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I’ve been busy these past few months working on an upcoming children’s book entitled “Isang Harding Papel” set during the 1970s – the Martial Law years. Written by Augie Rivera and published by Adarna House. The book will be coming out soon.

As with all period stories, research is essential; not just textual research but visual as well. Protest pictures were relatively easy enough to find, as well as images of the infamous Metrocom that truncheoned protesters into submission; but the smaller things proved a bit problematic. For example, what did the National Highway known as EDSA look like before ugly gigantic billboards sprouted up and blotted out the sky? What did the old propaganda billboards of President Marcos and Imelda Marcos look like?

Tight timelines only allowed me internet research with Google image search providing the bulk of the reference pictures. Some sites were particularly useful to my research, though. The blog site The First Quarter Storm Library had a lot of protest images during the early 70s while the flickr site by Gorio72 had loads of bus images and advertisements from various decades in Philippine history.

I was also able to grab some reference pictures from the long out of print book “The History of the Burgis” by Mariel N. Francisco and Fe C. Arriola published in 1987. Here is a little glimpse inside the book.

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For more information about Martial Law and its victims, here’s a link to the Martial Law Memory Project initiated by online news portal, Interaksyon.

I have always been fascinated with this era in Philippine history and it amazes me that in just two decades after Ferdinand Marcos’ exit, people’s feelings about Martial Law are slowly changing from outrage to ambivalence, and for some even fondness. More stories have to be written, movies filmed, and pictures made about our past so that we won’t easily forget.

Lastly, another book that was useful in my research is a pictorial account of the EDSA Revolution – the bloodless revolt during February of 1986 that toppled the Marcos regime. I was only 7 at the time of the revolution but I had vague memories of seeing the coverage on TV and the fervor of those heady days spilling onto our school.

Here are some images from the book:

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Process: Mito ng Pagkalalaki (Myth of Manhood)

filipino myths and legends

I barely made it to this exhibit. But I managed to submit something just in time.

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I decided to start with a black ground.

Mito Process

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I began painting most of the elements in grisaille with the intention of glazing in the colors for the final stages.

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Some flat elements were rendered in acrylic.

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Here, I started to glaze on the colors.

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I didn’t color in everything though. I still left some portions in monochrome.

mito-ng-pagkalalaki

Here’s the 3 x 5 ft. finished piece.

#EndHazingNow

Several days ago, another student fell victim to fraternity hazing.

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/368158/news/metromanila/benilde-hazing-victim-s-dad-was-told-son-attending-get-together

The student was a nephew of one of my friend’s friends. I was contacted a few days ago and asked if I wanted to contribute to a social media art idea they were thinking of.

The idea was to ask different illustrators to draw heroes breaking paddles with the line: BROTHERS DON’T HURT BROTHERS #EndHazingNow

I drew one of my favorite Filipino heroes growing up: Flavio, also known as Panday.

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Baitang

I’ll be part of a group exhibit organized by Sinag Microfunds, a non-profit organization that supports financially struggling students in the Philippines through microloans. Part of the proceeds of the exhibit will go to the tuition loan funds of college students in need.

sinag dreams on canvas

 

Here’s my painting for the event:

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“Baitang”, 3 x 4 ft., oil on canvas

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DREAMS ON CANVAS EXHIBIT

When: Opening Cocktails on May 24, 2014 (2 to 5 pm)

Exhibit runs until June 24, 2014

Where: Bulwagan ng Dangal, UP Main Library, University of the Philippines Diliman

 

Visit their website or their facebook page for more details about the organization.

Alunsina Handbound Journal Unwrapped

I’m a moleskine guy. Even if it feels a bit overpriced, I still buy the carnet de croquis because a lot of my painting ideas were born in those notebooks.

Nevertheless, I always love a well-crafted journal, especially one made by local crafters.

I found about Alusina Handbound Books on Instagram and after requesting a catalog, I sent in an order for a handmade journal along with a couple of mini-journal necklaces that I gave out as gifts.

A couple of weeks ago, my journal arrived and because I love receiving packages, I just wanted to document the unwrapping.

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The craftsmanship of the journal is excellent and then paper stock is thick enough to take in ink without soaking up the back of the page. The price is also reasonable for the quality of the product.

Visit their facebook page for more information on their products.

Collaborator: A Painting Series

I’m part of an ongoing group exhibit entitled Collaborator. Organized by Boxplot, three artists from Australia and three from the Philippines were paired up to developed individual works that stem from online discussions (email, facebook, and skype) about the theme. Since this is probably one of the very few places my work will ever be seen, I thought I’d post the three paintings I did for the exhibit.

The theme “collaborator” has both positive and negative connotations. A collaborator could be a creative partner or it could be someone in collusion with an enemy or an invading force. Whether positive or negative, my partner and I we decided that the idea of a collaborator touched on questions of identity. A shared work obviously blurs the line of personal creative ownership while collaborating with an enemy calls into question one’s allegiance and identity.

On a basic level, I thought of the whole idea of collaboration as a mash-up. I tried to draw on my own country’s history with colonial powers and tried coming with up with pictures that reflected Philippine culture and history as a series of mash-ups between indigenous culture and the culture of an occupying force.

Some background context:

  • The Philippines has been occupied by three major powers throughout its history: Spain (1521 – 1898), United States of America (1898 – 1946, with a 4-year break when the Japanese took over), and Japan (1942 – 1945)
  • The Philippines is predominantly Catholic, having received the religion from the Spaniards.

 

SANTO SANTO

santosanto-web

56.5 x 76.2 cm / Acylic on Paper

For the first work “Santo Santo”, I thought of it as a Spain/Philippines mash up. The costume of the main figure was something worn by the Filipino mestizos of the 19th century. It was a hybrid of European clothing adapted to local tastes. In the painting are two statues, the Santo Niño (Infant Jesus) and a bulul, a wooden figure used to guard the rice crop by the Igorot people of Northern Philippines.

Many Philippine Catholic homes have Santo Niño statues, and devotees would often ask favor from the icon, touching or rubbing the statue as if it was a talisman to bring favor or ward off evil. In some ways, it is similar to placement of bulul figures by ancient Filipinos to guard their granaries.

TURO-TURO

turo-turo-web

56.5 x 76.2 cm / Acylic on Paper

“Turo” is filipino for point. There are food stalls in the Philippines called “turo-turo” which literally means that you point at whatever you like to eat and they serve it up to you.

The central image is that of a “makapili“. A Filipino collaborator used by the Japanese during World War II to point out Filipino rebels from a line-up for execution. My grandparents told me that these collaborators often wore a “bayong” (a woven shopping bag) over their heads to hide their identities.

Incidentally “turo-turo” is also a word play on tora tora. It was a Japanese code-word used to indicate that complete surprise had been achieved during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Tora! Tora! Tora! was a World War II film on the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.”

ASA-ASA

asa-asa-web

56.5 x 76.2 cm / Acylic on Paper

“Asa” or more accurately “Pag-asa” is Filipino for “Hope”. Filipinos can be fatalistic. It is not unheard of for people to throw all caution to the wind and let God sort out all problems. This may partly explain the popularity of TV game shows where Filipinos line up for hours just to get a chance to enter a contest in the hopes of winning a bit of money to alleviate one’s poverty.
This fatalism can be summed up by the phrase “bahala na” or something like “whatever will be, will be” or “come what may”. So you hear utterances like “bahala na ang Diyos” or “let’s leave it up to God”. This has mutated to the phrase “bahala na si Batman” (hence the central image), which is often used in Filipino conversations.
It is said that the Philippines spent 300 years in a convent and 50 years in Hollywood. Which seems to explain the country’s entrenched religious order as well as the Philippines’ love for American pop culture.

The Exhibit runs from Friday 25 April – Sunday 11 May, 2014
(Official Exhibition Opening Event: 6pm – 8pm Thursday 24 April)
Where: 22 Gibson Street, Bowden
Entry: Free / All Works for Sale
Opening Times: 1pm – 6pm, Thursday to Sunday (including Anzac Day public holiday)