Wednesday, February 15, 2012

cosmic parables: the art of nunilon arnold bancaso, jr.

tuesday, 14 feb 2012
business mirror 
the talent
THE effusive colors on the canvases of Nunilon Bancaso’s works are deceiving. The use of what seems like a limitless fondness for all the possible palettes in the world appears to tell us of an artistry that is facile, if not charming.
A modifier that stresses how a piece of art can charm is, however, dangerous; the description can diminish the power of whatever message the artist wants to convey. It is not that art should always fit itself with the armor of gravitas but the works of Bancaso have all that—a majesty and a hugeness that grab your way of seeing onto a way of believing.
In a brief conversation with the artist, I found out that he does not have any formal training as a painter, unless one calls the art education in his high school a kind of training. His interest in arts has been sustained in the seminary where he interacts with seminarians. Because if there is one secret—or agenda—in his art, it is that this painter happens to be a priest.
the sower
I must confess I was a bit wary of writing about Bancaso’s art because I do not want religion as a filter in my liking or not liking it. In his earlier exhibit, entitled Dulay (literally, “jar” or “pottery” in the Bikol language), there was an almost in-your-face relationship between his paintings and the ancient Christian metaphor about us being pots in the hands of the Great Potter. Would I have been able to appreciate the paintings had I not known about the biblical allusions? It must have been difficult for me to appreciate the works then because as I think of that exhibit, I could barely recall the works, although it was clear in my mind that Bancaso played around and succeeded in his experimentation with textures.
the lost sheep
A mystical leap happens in the works of Bancaso that are being exhibited right now in  Naga City. The Christian/Catholic messaging is still present, with some works labeled as depiction of selected parables, stories meant to relay discourses on what is good and what is bad. There is one difference though: the images that bear these stories have been abstracted to the point of cosmic mystery. It is as if one is at the ledge of a privileged perspective scanning the universe for the birthing of forms and figures that will ultimately stand for the fundamental mysteries of life. The pieces themselves are not large by any gallery standard, most of them are medium-sized at 30"x40". Instead of being limiting, the frames call our attention to the content and composition that are within the frames but are blessed with the surpluses of an epic retelling.
the ten bridesmaids
One work is called The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, a story of 10 women awaiting the arrival of the groom. Five of the women, the wise ones, brought with them sufficient oil while another five did not. The story has been discussed as a story on the appropriate readiness for the coming of the Bridegroom, who is Christ. In Bancaso’s hand, the tale is told by way of a diptych, created by demarcating the frame with two color fields: on the left, a bright field of egg yolk and pleasant russet and vermillion; on the right, mouse-grays and ink. Common to the two fields are the constant presence of five circles and the literalness of the bright hues for good thinking and the darker colors for the confused and dimwittedness of the other virgins.
the mustard seed
What if the viewers do not know anything about the parables? I expected the painter to tell me they should but he gave me two proposals. One is that they could “enjoy” the painting by trying to find in the recognizable figures the elements of the story embedded in the great parables. The other option is for the viewers to change the title.
I am not sure if the artist was humoring me but, as I moved from one painting to another—from one parable to another—I began to see the titles as an unsparing and trenchant guide or even indices to an experience about one’s religion. If I am a pilgrim, the parables could stand as a map that is both cartographic leads to lessons about the depths of one’s faith and grids to recondite passages. But “humored” already by the artist, I could also ignore the titles and partake in the feast of colors and be swept in the swirl and grandeur of this universe.
the net
Some titles triumph. The piece on The Parable of the Dragnet is an engaging chaos of greens and blues with white lines supremely running as ruled by destiny. A tiny red speck hints of a birth of a star or the dying of one. If this parable is about heaven being cast across humanity as a net, then the title elucidates the Biblical reminder even as the images are about a cosmos being managed by a divine intelligence. Two lessons in one.
the prodigal son
The Parable of the Prodigal Son is an unabashed depiction of the three personalities involved in the story: the son who stayed, the son who strayed, and the father who forgave. All represented by three circles marked by red, purple and blue-green. The wide swath of colors though might as well be the cosmic proportion of the lessons about forgiveness and time passing through everyone’s thread of fate. 
the pearl
In this young priest’s homily, the stories are big and encompassing as murals etched in the heavens. That Nunilon Bancaso admits he has no formal lessons in art, it would preposterous to mention influences here, and assume some lineage to other schools of art. For reference though, I see in Bancaso the intense coloration of the Russian abstract artists. The geometric obsession prevails, with circles and lines recognizable amid dashes of primary colors, the great red, green and blue. That is not, however, the source of appeal for his works. In Bancaso’s works, you get this feeling you are always looking up, or gazing beyond the horizon. It is a positioning that makes the way to transcendence easier. Which is really the direction of all parables.
the weeds
The exhibit is on view at the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary in Naga City after having been moved from the Café des Artes, an art haven managed by Bernadette “Bidibidi” De Los Santos, in the small town of Baao, Camarines Sur. The place represents a major stirring of art activities in the region. Photographs of the art pieces are courtesy of the artist and the Café des Artes.

OsacnaB's works review

the works of OsacnaB - burikbutikan's pride, reviewed by Tito Valiente of the Business Mirror

Saturday, February 11, 2012

welcome to an art experience

by OsacnaB

"Art is the refined and intensified form of experience." - John Dewey
to our beloved guests:  emmanuel garibay and ron david,
to all the visitors coming from manila and different places outside baao,
to all the teachers, students and artists

before i welcome you, allow me to thank you for four reasons:
1.  for your presence;
2.  for showing interest and seeing value in art;
3.  for acknowledging that you are artists, and
4.  for accepting the challenge to teach other people to become artists themselves.
art is inseparable to life.  no one can run away from it.  as we live, we want to see beautiful things,  we wish to experience new things that give us pleasure, joy and satisfaction.  even in our ways of dealing with ciscumstances in life, we desire that they happen with ease and order.  even hatred and fear can be starting points of good art pieces, for some.  it is undeniable that art is connected with what we yearn for, experience and the future we care to have.
for us, serious artists, this forum is one way to educate ourselves, to empty first our minds that we may be able to accept new learnings coming from other artists.  it is one way of saying that there are things to be learned, to study, be skilled at, not only through our individual efforts but by interacting and discussing with others.
we may be doing well with our own arts and crafts, we may be convinced that we are the best and no other individual can be greater or even equal with what we believe and do, but always remember, it will never be enough; there are things to be learned, gain knowledge of and we do not know what lies ahead of us in this art world.
put into mind:
botong francisco, a modernist artists, is best know for his murals and his art is a prime example of linear painting where lines and contours appear like cutouts;
h.r. ocampo, a nationalal artist, fictionist, painter, playwright and editor, was a radical modernist artist whose works depict a kind of abstract compositions of biological forms that seem to quiver, inflame and multiply;
fernandp amorsolo, who is popularly known for his craftsmanship and mastery in the use of light;
romulo olazo developing his diaphanous series of abstract paintings;
mario parial, a printmaker, sculptor, painter and photographer;
dominic rubio delving on subject of women, mother and child, ethnic filipina from the earlier period at the turn of the century;
ramon orlina chose to create sculptures from glass, exploring its translucent quality and smooth finish;
oscar salita whose figures and backgrounds speak of traditional filipino culture and rendered in bold colours and interestng geometry;
the belleza family working on almost the same colours and technique, expressing beauty and bright colours in flowers and fruits;
manuel baldemor painting day-to-day activities, people, celebrations and sceneries in simplified geometric froms of folk art character;

how about emmanuel garibay, our beloved guest who will be explaining, demonstrating how he expresses himself through painting which we will see later;
and last, but certainly not the least, ron david, an art collector, who untiringly gathered and is still gathering artworks of masters. . .
they are what they are today, because they see the value of art and consider art as part of their lives and that we crave and aspire to become like them, we aim to do the same.  and so, if we intend, plan or choose to be like these great masters, we now start our art forum 2012 "natudan, matudan" with open minds and grateful hearts. . .

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

art gives hope

it's hard not to talk about the event.  the natudan, matudan - an art encounter, which happened last 3-4 feb 2012, here in baao, my beloved hometown.  afterall, when did it ever happen that fifty works of art by the masters were shown in one single exhibit, more so, in a sleepy little rural town south of luzon, the philippines?  never have and maybe, never will again.

the objective of the event was education.  of course, art is a subject taught and discussed in schools, i am sure in the schools here in baao, too.  but just like what the teachers who came and saw the masterpieces, said, the impact of experiencing the art of the masters themselves is a totally different kind of education.  and true to its objective, the event changed the conversation on art.  and it is not only happening with the connoisseurs of fine art.  school kids are getting engaged, too.

for the most part of the exhibit, i was on my post, in between four defined quarters and was overseeing how the students were behaving amidst the beautiful art pieces.  how amazing and wonderful it is to watch the faces of the children glow and shine, and how their jaws dropped at the sight of fine art.


two hundred or so students, all of them from baao, walked from as far as san vicente to be able to see and experience what it is to feel the works of the masters.  

it was fascinating, enthralling and captivating to watch the children look deeply into the paintings to interpret their meaning.  

i can overhear discussions popping up among the students about what is good art and which pieces made them feel good.

the event has been a shining light in an otherwise dark and cloudy environment.  it is a difficult economic atmosphere for art groups and artists, when unemployment is the situation you live with day in and day out, and the basic needs are hitting the roof.

but i talked with some students, some artists, some guests, they were all in high spirits!
the best interpretation of the impact of art, came from a youth who i called to one side and asked what his impression was, about the event.  the boy was very small for his age, i definitely thought he was in grade two, and was aghast to learn he belonged to the hs class.  when i asked him, he readily said that art gives people hope, through creative expression.  it allows the sun to shine on them.  and when people have hope, everything is possible.

it is cloudy today, but the sun shines on art, creativity and hope in my beloved hometown of baao.