Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

The way to Biringan: Dulce's Kromatik

- Merlie M. Alunan -
According to her blog, aptly titled Arkanamama! (http://arkanamama.multiply .com), Dulce Cuna's hometown is Biringan. You have to be from Western Samar to appreciate where that is. Biringan, an unlocated country somewhere between Calbayog and Catarman, where mythic cities of indescribable grandeur are said to exist, unvisited by ordinary mortals, known only by sumptuous folk stories that refuse to die despite television and radio, and the advent of diesel-fueled buses clattering past the grasslands and rock formations that make up the landscape.

Biringan country is said to be somewhere there. But then again, it is not anywhere, really. It is not in the usual spaces where most of us move. It is in a dimension all its own. One can go there without having to go anywhere, the way Harry Potter navigates between two worlds on a broomstick. And what it's like in Biringan, no one knows. They say one may visit if one had the daring. Or, by some magical slip, one is brought there willy-nilly. There's one story of a bus that somehow lost its way and the driver stopped to pass the night at some sort of depot. When he and his passengers woke up the next morning they were in the middle of a clump or bamboos with no roads anywhere around them that would have brought them where they were...

Biringan. That's where she comes from, she says, and no wonder. Those who know her have suspected this all along, but are too staid to really give it much thought. Last September 22, 2006, Dulce exhibited some twenty canvasses at the Leyte-Samar Heritage Gallery, under the overall title of Kromatik. The exhibit gives us glimpses of the strange wild colors of her world. The major canvasses were filled with biomorphic forms in vivid colors-raw reds, oranges, blues and greens, yellows and bright purples-drifting in a watery field like lush seaweeds and corals.

Like a true Biringan native, Dulce has given the canvasses Waray names, thus the central canvass is called Kaladkad, which means "boiling." The shapes that make up the canvass are distinct, the edges sharply defined-they do not merge and blend and melt into one another, like life forms in the process of birthing, finding a shape, an identity, like plasma before it became an organism. Like a word in its pre-Oedipal moment, before it achieved a sound and a meaning. This are the general characteristics of Pamukaw ni JR, Slurp, and Pamukad.

Pamukaw ni JR offers the variation of a frame in a dream-like canvass of biomorphic shapes, like a dreamer's window to realism, indeed like an alien looking through a chink in his world into the human landscape of mountains and clouds and trees and an undiscovered lake. Through the angular window, one views a dewy world dawning, water framed in a curtain of greenery and an innocent sky, the whole window afloat in an inchoate aqua field threatened by toothed swirls of brilliant colors, the unshaped looking out to the solidity of the world after creation. Dulce shows the metamorphoses of colors into flowers, trees, leaves, a human face, the human body, and finally, the female shape in all the glory of a social statement, the figure clothed and in a stance of pride and power, and bearing a fully-realized human drama.

Kromatik is a fanciful production, as fanciful as the painter imagining that she, or people of her kind, come from the magic city of Biringan. But such imaginings are certainly vital for the completion of our basic humanity. The show navigates the strange processes of birthing, the constant shifts we endure between chaos and identity, between word and silence, between annihilation and form and our endless metamorphosis from one color to another. The way we travel from the world of day to Biringan in the darkness behind our sight. See it happen in http://arkanamama.multiply.com

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