Making, like, whoopee!
KRIPOTKIN - Alfred A. Yuson (The Philippine Star) - November 26, 2012 - 12:00am

With December just around the corner, the socio-cultural whirl is now very much been upon us. Oh, like anything. And it was building up all through that otherwise “gray November.” Takes a toll, if occasionally in a gladsome way.

First, Mercury went on retrograde to bedevil our writing projects. And now that it’s turning forward in its quicksilver way tomorrow, the deterrents against work or work habits have incorporated the daily, nightly invites to this and that.

Win some lose some, I guess. Well, win a lot, actually. And friendship, appreciation, nostalgia  the old stand-by’s plus what other positive have-you’s  have all been big features in the winning. 

On Nov. 13 we exulted over a double exhibit of terrific art at the Vargas Museum in UP Diliman. Now that was an inspired notion by Patrick Flores to have a couple of outstanding Filipino creative artists mount superlative work to fill up several floors of lovely space: the posthumous “Can’t Go Back Home Again: Santiago Bose in the Family Collection” and Ronald Ventura’s latest triumph of arresting fancy, with sculpted figures essaying an eminent take on bulols or Cordillera gods.

Whatever is said  mostly in envy and/or in typical pasaway mode  against the otherwise joyous development that Ventura has become the best-selling Pinoy visual artist since his landmark success in the international auction circuit, it can’t detract from the fact that the fellow is bursting with exceptional creative talent and a vision that sets him far apart from also-rans.

Maybe it’s because he doesn’t appear to take his art too seriously, or rather, he isn’t one to express in words or images a particularly authoritative tone that desperately seeks to manifest gravitas. His works speak for themselves: in his monumental canvases, the panoply and pageantry of incongruous figures like humans and animals in only mildly surrealistic pairings and configurations; and now his totemic figures that subtly advance the mythology of granary gods towards a world of Mickey Mouse and sci-fi icons.

It’s all fun work. And exemplarily evident is the adroit execution of idea or concept or leitmotif. Besides, it’s not his fault that an auctioneer’s gavel bangs down to the tune of millions for a Ronald Ventura. We should rejoice that this is happening.  

As for Bose, that iconic imp of the highlands, oh wow, how we miss his transcendental laughter over the very spirit of fun. It’s not entirely levity that is exercised in our dear old friend Santi’s varied, constantly evolved accomplishments, since the gravitas sneaks in a punch or two or three to knock us back from quotidian stupor.

He is homo ludens, at play with his art and the world  grinning, giggling, mocking, sticking his tongue out, harrumphing with wild slaps at both knees, LOL-ing all through his incessantly inventive and mischievous articulations that employ history, iconography, quasi-religion, personal codes, private jokes, cryptology gone camp in the most delicious or abrasive manner.

The double-exhibit stays there throughout much of December. Experience it and regale yourself in the variety of genius that defines our visual arts. 

* * *

Last Monday, we were at Benji Reyes’ celebration of 30 years of his own veritable genius with wood at the Eastwood Atrium Mall  the opening night of his four-day exhibit of elegant, uniquely designed, exquisitely crafted furniture pieces, from chairs and tables to cabinets, beds, doors, and one splendid chess set.

While Benji’s creations exclusively using recycled Philippine wood are all utilitarian, the sense of whimsy stays paramount, even in the way he mixes up the kinds of wood that all spell native reverence: narra, kamagong, balayong, yakal, molave, ipil, dungon…

I’ve always admired and envied our sculptors. We have so many superlative artists working with wood, among them Gerry Araos, Claude Tayag, Rey Paz Contreras, Karl Aguila, Luv ’em all, also Mon Orlina and Impy Pilapil who have mastered other materials.

Benji Reyes has by word of mouth gained much prominence in this field. His works are fought for; he gets non-stop commissions, and now even works at resort design.

I’m very happy for him, as much as I’m happy for Ronald Ventura’s success, even if I haven’t spoken a word with the latter, and have known Benji personally only lately. They do us all very proud, and that should be enough for us to exult along.

Just as we exult when we are treated to exalting music, even covers, of the Beatles no less, by the iconic band Banyuhay with our fave idol Heber Bartolome. This was at The Oarhouse Pub in Ermita last Tuesday, when these musicians paid tribute to the late lamented Ed Manalo, everyone’s friend in our mutually abiding  happy campers in the art circle here in Manila. 

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds we sang along to. Couldn’t help it. And all other Beatles faves, before the band did other anthems like Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, Just Like a Woman and Forever Young by Bob Dylan.

Someone commented, Why, they’re singing songs that are almost half a century old; haven’t they learned anything new all these years? LOL! We love it!

 All these years. Yes. Still stir-crazy. YES!

And when guitar-and-harmonica man Roy Dominguez took his turn before the mic with Tambourine Man, we knew that we were back in time all right, YES! But that we’re still in that merry continuum that has made us all brothers and sisters in joyous spirit, down the glorious decades. It is a communal one, attended by much song, by exultant music, by art, by the creative fire in each of us, and we know we’re one.

Will our generation ever die out? No! I think not. By 2020 our scientists will find resolution for the Ponce de Leon conundrum, and we’ll all still be singing the Beatles and Dylan for another millennium.

 

BEATLES AND DYLAN BENJI REYES BOB DYLAN CLAUDE TAYAG EASTWOOD ATRIUM MALL ED MANALO FAMILY COLLECTION RONALD VENTURA
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