80 images of Filipino life

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Monday, July 29, 2013

IT'S like being seated window side on a moving bus, with nothing but the scenery outside that changes from town to town to keep one from falling into a state of boredom. In successive and spontaneous flashes, you’re treated to nature’s fast-paced slide show and there’s quite nothing like it.

Although this one requires a little walking instead, this art exhibit organized by the Portrait Artists Society of the Philippines Inc., from July 12-25, may provide one with a quick “tour” to witnessing Filipino character and culture.

The exhibit, with the theme “Filipino Way of Life,” showcases around 80 paintings by 39 artists—all displaying their personal takes on the given theme.


The society, founded by the highly esteemed art maestro Romulo Galicano, is relatively new and this particular outing is their second group show to date. Held at the SM City Cebu Art Center, the show treated guests and mall-goers alike to numerous displays of life-like portraits, picturesque landscapes and a few contemporary pieces.

“I’m encouraged to be a part of this group. I feel like we all get mutual help when it comes to ideas,” shared Emar Lacorte, one of the society’s new members. Although Emar has started painting full time since 2005, he has way before that started painting as a hobby back in 1999.

“I’d like to focus on oil paintings,” he shares, adding that he feels like it is his special medium of sort. Definitely an artist who finds himself enjoying representational and realist work, he reiterates that choosing an ideal subject matter is what he considers something he can’t do without with his art. His take on the mother and child shows a partnership enduring the grip of poverty. “I like to paint dramatic and emotional pieces. There’s something about emotional pieces that inspire me to work better,” added Emar.

When it comes to experience, artist Maxcel Puentenegra Migallos draws from an even deeper well. Maxcel started painting full time right after he received his degree in Fine Arts in 1980.

Although he feels like he was “a late bloomer in art,” the 80s provided him with a chance to explore his craft. Back then with a group of realist painters, they formed a group that had exhibitions in Metro Manila art galleries like Sining Kamalig in Pasay City, City Gallery in Luneta, Gallery Uno in Greenhills and Greenhils Art Center.

But despite the years, being part of the Portrait Society is something he still cherishes. “I feel honored being with the group headed by Galicano. I also feel challenged as the portrait genre is my least explored art style.”

Maxcel shared that his painting “Guitar Man” is done in watercolor and is about the blind musician eking out his daily existence in Fort San Pedro.

Maxcel has delved into mediums such as oil and acrylic. But lastly, he turned to watercolor as he sees it as a convenient medium for students and part-time painters.

“It would help also that Cebu has the best watercolorists in the country like Kimsoy Yap and Fred Galan. From them I developed gradually my style and technique.”

“I’m just here to help,” replied artist and group mentor Kimsoy Yap. Being his usual light hearted and subdued self. “I find joy in mentoring.”

Kimsoy joined in on the show as well, with a painting of Badjao kids on a boat; a piece that effortlessly translates to serenity and is easily one of the standout works in the exhibit.

To be clear, the exhibit wasn’t exactly a room full of portraits—and which was rather refreshing. The exhibiting artists submitted works of theirs that represented their technique, even if it means veering a little from the portrait genre.

“I’d like to describe my style of work as something with a sketchy feel, one with more room for suggestions, not static looking, achieves rhythm and doesn’t bore me,” lightly revealed artist Geraldine Ocampo about her preferences.

With a self-confessed taste for the contemporary, Geraldine simply put out a painting called “Grace” showing an image of a lady in praying. “A lot of people are into traditional art. I want to be able to stretch myself from the rules.”

Whatever the case, members of the Portrait Society have obviously benefited from the mutual partnership and learning they get from one another.

Perhaps as only time and the quality of their future exhibits may prove, the artists may toss and turn the ideals of what makes a painting traditional or contemporary and simply come up with a recipe that’s simply Filipino.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 30, 2013.


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