The colors of Zaballero's world

Dexter Rodrigo Matilla (The Philippine Star) - July 8, 2013 - 10:14am

MANILA, Philippines - Phyllis Zaballero left behind, though probably not completely, abstract art in favor of still life—specifically the dining table after it has been used in one way or another, that of animals, high tea with friends, or things she sees through a window.

It’s a celebration, definitely, that Phyllis shares her recent works in an exhibition “Color My World”, at Altro Mondo gallery, 3rd/F Greenbelt 5 Ayala Center, Makati City. Launched during the opening is the book PHYLLIS ZABALLERO by renowned author Alfredo Roces.

Phyllis née del Rosario was born in Cavite during the last world war. She led a peripatetic lifestyle with her parents, Fermin and Felicitas, travelling and living in Boston, New York, San Francisco, Geneva, Paris and Barcelona during the late  forties and fifties. In 1960, her father died in Barcelona, and she along with her mother, came home to Manila to bury his remains.

She completed her AB in Economics at UP Diliman in 1963, married banker Toti Zaballero in 1964 and started her life as wife and mother to three sons. In 1974, she enrolled in the College of Fine Arts at UP Diliman, graduating in 1978, magna cum laude, with a 13 Artists grant from the Cultural Center of the Philippines to boot. She also opened her first solo exhibit that year, a show titled simply "Zaballero" at the Small Gallery of the CCP. In a curious coincidence, that first show opened on the 7th of July, exactly 35 years ago this month.

“Color My World” brings forth still life and figurative works on canvas and paper for which Phyllis’ works have come to be known, nostalgic and all a reflection of her own travels and her life as young girl, homemaker, mother, student and now grandmother to a new generation of Zaballeros.

“In naming this exhibit ‘Color My World’ I tried to distill into three dry words all the many fluids, flavors and fantasies that, mixed together, make up the fuel of my creative engine,” Zaballero says. “That may sound overly dramatic, but although I am told that too much retrospection in an exhibit can transform one into an alliterative poet, still one can be forgiven.”

Zaballero adds that the vividness and intensity of color has always excited her, drawing inspiration from the world she knew then and the one she is living in now.

“I persist in coloring these worlds with pigments of emotion and nostalgia until an old and musty memory becomes my new reality. A subtle and elusive encounter is resurrected into a sharp evocation of a sliver of time, a half-forgotten moment that surely mattered very much.”

Phyllis signing copies of the book "Zaballero" by Alfredo Roces

The Roces book, ZABALLERO, is the first major publication on the artist. Important paintings are featured, following the artist through her life and artistic career to the present day. The development of her working technique from inspiration to finished painting is detailed in Zaballero's own words to benefit both students and art lovers alike.

The artist is a supporter of the Asian Cultural Council (ACC) and a portion of the show's proceeds will benefit the ACC's Philippine Fellowship Program. She will be having an art talk on July 20 at Altro Mondo gallery (632) 501–3270 to 71 or

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