^
'Bente pesos': New 'extensively researched' exhibit tells prostitutes' tales
Max Balatbat's "P*ta sa Ikatlong Abenida" solo exhibit
Art Verité Gallery via Instagram

'Bente pesos': New 'extensively researched' exhibit tells prostitutes' tales

Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) - March 1, 2021 - 4:38pm

MANILA, Philippines — “Batang Kalookan” Max Balatbat grew up in the city’s orifice, 3rd Avenue, which suffers from a seedy reputation as a conduit for the sex trade.

Here, the golden rule for an undocumented many is “ibenta ang laman para ang tiyan magkalaman.”

“Actually, all the time naman ang p*tahan kahit saang kalakaran. Wala din naman akong kilala na hindi nagp*ta. Ikaw ba meron?” Max told Philstar.com in an online interview.

The Caloocan-born artist credits his early creative formation and works to the International Cabaret, a brothel in his community "where he spent some unusual younger years in the company of prostitutes and rug rats like him."

For Max, sex workers are everyday protagonists who have been shunned by the same society that birthed them.

In his solo show “P*ta sa Ikatlong Abenida,” which will exhibit until March 12 at the Art Verité Gallery in Bonifacio Global City, Max paid homage to people whom he thinks deserve better.

“Gusto ko ipakita ‘yung ibang anggulo ng lugar at mga tao. ‘Yung positibong side naman kasi sawa na kaming katakutan, pandirihan, pagkatuwaan, paglaruan. Gusto ko lang ikwento ang mga dahilan kung bakit sila nag-exist, kung bakit sila naging mga puta at bugaw, kung bakit nananatili ang ganitong kalalaran.”

 

 

The exhibit featured a total of eight works: “P*ta Reyna,” “Slut Machine,” and “Belyas portrait 001-006.”

Preparation took almost a year while execution of the paintings needed two to three months.

Max explained that his works were extensively researched with direct accounts from the sex workers he sought to honor.

“Mahabang pakikipagkwentuhan kasi ‘yan at paglalakad, pagmamasid, para unawain at maunawa tapos magsusulat ako kaya medyo mahaba ang proseso.”

 

 

After his legwork came the handiwork. For his latest project, Max debuted the use of acrylic skin on acrylic.

“Acrylic paint gamit ko, pero non-trad. Pinapatuyo ko mga pintura mga five to seven days then nagmumukha siyang mga tela. Tapos inilalapat ko siya sa pinatuyong pintura ulit na nagsilbing canvas ko gamit ang pandikit na pintura pa rin!”

But this is unlike chocolate on chocolate in the sense that each coating of paint adds a depth of visual information — so as to represent the different layers of sex workers too often portrayed as one-dimensional.

 

 

Max recalled the words of 65-year-old “Amalia,” still active in this underground economy.

“J*kol bente, ch*pa trenta” was the line that made him swallow.

It was an important lesson then and a greater reminder still of how the marginalized survive when lipstick is the only investment they can afford.

“Buhay sa amin ay mahalaga, katawan ang sagot para ibenta,” Max wrote.

“Kung ang pinggan nila ay nais magkalaman hindi nagdadalawang isip magbenta ng laman.”

ART VERITE GALLERY CALOOCAN CITY MAX BALATBAT THIRD AVENUE
Philstar
  • Latest
Latest
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with