Art musings

LOOKING ASKANCE - Joseph Gonzales - The Freeman

The alarm rings at 7 a.m., but I have been awake for at least fifteen minutes before that. It is time to fly to Bacolod, where an art gallery will feature Doods.

Doods is an artist when convenient, but normally, he is an architect, posing in real life as Hilario Campos. What is exciting about his works is that they feature monsters juxtaposed against ordinary backdrops like jeepneys and coffee shops. The monsters look like they could have been part of Maurice Sendak's books, but they are less scary, and more adorable.

A couple of oversized fowls might be sitting on the roof of the local police station, with tentacles flowing out of windows. One is an owl, with blood leaking out of its eyes. The other is a humongous pink chick, wide-eyed and despondent. Hopefully, this picture is not an indictment of local provincial police. Whatever the message Doods is trying to convey, the works themselves are endearing, certainly worth snapping up.

I am hoping there is something in Doods' collection, titled Fauna and Friends, that I both like, and can afford. Meanwhile, I intend to schedule a visit to Jay-R Delleva's studio, where he is currently preparing for his next one-man show in Manila.

I've written a couple of times already about Delleva, given the fact that I am so impressed with his distinctive style. Once Jay-R completes a canvas, it is immediately recognizable as his. Most of the time, it is the fact there's an animal attached to the head of his denizen, but where there is no such headgear, then it is the planes he delineates under their eyes that set them apart and stamp them as his. (I could label these planes as eyebags but I don't want to for fear of the negative connotation attached to bags.)

Delleva, despite being the struggling artist that he is, one who presumably has more urgent things to do than take care of overeager fans, has offered to meet me at the airport and feed me lunch. I am pleasantly surprised, and can do nothing less than accept. After all, it's not just the polite and respectful thing to do; it's also one helluva anecdote if he ever becomes a national artist. Or even just plain famous.

I have also been keeping an eye on Delleva, watching his works evolve through the years. Once in a while, if the opportunity presents itself, I end up lugging a piece home and enshrining it wherever there's still space on my walls. I have also been hawking his unsold works to friends who are art lovers, helping them find homes. That hasn't been very difficult, for there are plenty of pop art lovers around who can appreciate his distinctive style.

That is partly why I am stealing off to his studio. I am hoping to beat other friends I have introduced to Delleva's works.  Apparently, after getting exposed to the few images I have forwarded, they have been eager to see his past works and are now snapping them up. I now fear there will be unpleasant competition for the fruits of his next show, so this is a way of getting ahead. (Now it makes really good sense to accept his lunch invitation).

Doods and Jay-R are just two of the artists that have seen their careers blossom under the aegis of Orange Gallery, a gallery founded by the internationally renowned surrealist slash impressionist Charlie Co. Others like Roderick Tijing, Junjun Montelibano and Cindy Ballesteros have also gotten their jumpstart here.

Without Orange Gallery, I would not know how I would have gotten to intimately know these provincial artists. In Cebu, Qube Gallery seems to be at the forefront of art events, but I am still waiting for them to introduce the newbies. The Cebuano scene is still dominated by the old guard. With art lovers making their presence felt and opening art hubs, shows, and auctions, perhaps those unique voices can be unleashed upon us.

I can't wait to be stealing off to Cebu then.

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