Toti Cerda and Erwin Mallari: Keeping the Faith


Master visual artist Toti Cerda and watercolorist Erwin Mallari were both born, bred and continue to dwell in their respective hometowns near the proximity to the metropolitan center. As significant contemporary artists they have bear witnessed to the radical change of progress in these dwellings evolving from once being idyllic and pristine locations to the ever bustling these localities are today.

Cerda, who was born in Talim Island near Binangonan, saw how in the last 30 years the lakeshore towns of Rizal have evolved the fishing enclaves and farming villages being partitioned into the commercial districts and residential subdivisions at present.

Na-Amorsolo II by Toti Cerda

Mallari grew up in Malabon when it was still a fishing hub in Rizal until the 70s and observed when it separated and became part of Metro Manila. Fishing still remains a major source of livelihood in the area because of the interconnected of its river system. This development attracted people to reside in its low lying flat terrains making Malabon densely populated through that it floods and have worsened in recent years. It constantly becoming submerged in water most of the time, as it became known.

Foot Bridge (c4 Malabon) by Erwin Mallari

In Paghilom, Cerda and Mallari have meticulously documented the visual changes in their beloved abodes and the surrounding setting around them that are fast changing. More than just putting their thoughts on their canvases and papers, they have however kept the faith in their beloved places of origin and remain hopeful that there is still a light at the end of this ongoing pandemic situation--as seen through the affirmative outlook of these recent works.

Cerda, of late pays homage to Philippine masters, and continuous to do so in rigid manner. He has honored the great 19th century realist Juan Luna and the poet of the palette in Carlos “Botong” Francisco in his previous outputs. In Paghilom, he highlights the master of folk genre in our first National Artist, Fernando Amorosolo, appropriating his hardworking farmers in the rice fields and women fetching water in clay pots. He churns out the gray and burgeoning factories as backdrops to Amorsolo’s colorful rural scenes as Cerda saw how rapid industrialization has slowly sprouted in vast expanse of his adopted region.

Paghilom is Cerda’s direct in-your-face clamor in support to agriculture for our own food sustenance and basic survival mode to the future. He expresses the quaint predominant metaphors of Amorsolo such as sturdy farmers toiling the soil and the beautiful provincial lasses cooking their meals against the solid concrete of gravel and the hustle of building economies as featured setting. Cerda has effected an experimental illustrative handle by using the soft yet distinct subjects of Amorsolos’s period evocations against a social realist and urban tableau. Cerda’s remains confident yet sensitive in these brushstrokes in adhering to Amorsolo’s masterpieces by inducing Cerda’s promising visual language and in finding new approaches to realism in painting. The result is a dramatic theater in paints.

Banga ni Amorsolo by Toti Cerda

In his previous life, Mallari was once part of the commuter life having to endure two hour bus rides from Malabon to Pasig where he used to work as a graphic designer. In Paghilom, he mends his old and tiring ways and heals from the painful remembrances caused by impatience to get a ride, inhaling smog caused by a polluted volume of transportation vehicles resulting into a perennial traffic. As a fine watercolorist, there is a certain charm when the colors and the tones of a scene is captured in watercolor. Even how Mallari renders the red lights from the bumper-to-to-bumper of cars has a certain romance when evocatively painted and hanged on the wall.

Meaningful to Mallari are the LRT 1 stations like Roosevelt, Balintawak and 5th Avenue which he is most familiar with and accustomed to its related commuter ordeal. He also favors bridges while doing his rounds documenting them for posterity. The Bitbit and Centennial Bridges and the Foot Bridge (Malabon) are prominently featured in this exhibiton. Mallari even finds beauty in the chaos in construction with faulty wires of electric posts included. There is relief for him in getting from where you came from to your point of destination. For Mallari that is progress of life and the joy is in the journey. Sometimes he who dabbled into photography, takes a photos and in framing his images translates them on larger watercolor paper when he gets home.

Bonifacio (Caloocan) by Erwin Mallari

These days Mallari advocates a return to riding bicycles as a means of transportation to ease traffic as he once had to endure it on a daily basis. His regimen now he become a city chronicler who goes around, with art materials in tow, documenting these memorable moments and secrets corners that he fancies along his bicycle routes around the metropolis.

Mallari is a constant fixture in the streets as he documents spaces by opting to paint outdoors (plein air as the French impressionists popularized it in the 19th century). While making his rounds he stops at a beautiful site that captures his eye and puts out his paper on boards and attempts to catch the fleeting moment. He hurriedly sketches them as he wets his paints and renders them in his desired compositions. He has special fond experiences with every piece he creates from bystanders as he prefers painting daily scenes of ordinary life on the spot.

Sometimes Mallari escapes from the city, immersing himself in rural landscapes such as Dingalan (in Aurora) and Alcala in Cagayan. Here he basks in its pristine sunlight and unfiltered air to recharge his artistic soul. Providing rest for the eyes, he know a lot of desperate people long for these framed painterly accents for as city folks many are trapped in the current quagmire of our urban jungles.

Paghilom is both a celebration to the city life as it stresses the value of spontaneity, appropriation and relevance in their artistic pieces, as most paintings even establish inherent tension and issues. They may not be commercially-eye candy pieces but in their subtlety or even harshness that convey the sense of wonder in the painters’ free reign of imagery and meaning. Depending how one would come to view the collective significance of these two artists, they are both positive in their creative output--that is all that matters.

Bukid ni Amorsolo by Toti Cerda

Unfazed by the possibilities of media, mixing three or more coats of paint is still the proposed materiality, whether it be acrylic or watercolor, be it done in reverse or even traversing the creative process. Cerda’s brand of realism has always constricted and countered the traditional visual styles of his forebears for it to redefine itself into new actualities of his own right. Often rejecting the banal and sacred, it defies fixation with the tested norm. Mallari, on the other hand, wants to hone his watercolor skills through strict discipline and mood. Despite it being the most difficult medium to handle among artists, he prefers the fresh perspectives and evocative expressions it imparts. Even as Cerda and Mallari are open to more raw approaches to art, both still value that paintings should be created for its social function and not lost for its own sake.

Bitbit Bridge (Narzagaray) by Erwin Mallari

PAGHILOM is ongoing at the Galerie Anna, Bldg. A, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City.


Otto Neri: Yesterday Once More


In keeping up with his bespoke visual style of juxtaposing the historical with contemporary iconographies, Otto Neri becomes more personal for this exhibition Jukebox, as he merges two of his prime obsessions--Philippine art history and popular music.

Hey Jude, Come Together

Being both a self-taught painter and musician for more than half of his creative life, Neri happily grew up in a realist neighborhood of Caloocan where he was honed as the willing apprentice by senior Mabini artists. With paint brushes in tow, priming their every canvas at any particular day of the week. All the while listening to the music of the bygone years spanning at least 30 years would naturally be heard in Neri’s entire household even extending in the midst of their neighborhood ambience.


Through all those years, Neri listened intently, imbibing the smooth crooning of Frank Sinatra, the blaring trumpet of Louis Armstrong, the yeah, yeah, yeah of the Beatles by heart, even backsliding to the danceable steps of the elevating moves of a gyrating Michael Jackson. The strength of these pieces is evident on how Neri is well-versed with the musicality of these tunes that even their respective memorized lyrics were literally coming out of his ears as he was painting these masterpieces. It was in the silence of the ongoing community quarantine that he heard them all at their loudest.

In Jukebox, Neri relied heavily on nostalgia as he deeply reminisced his own memories when life was plain simple and grossly fun. It is in remembering one’s significant past that we lighten up and learn a value or two. Suddenly through Neri’s paintings we are transported back in time when we first heard these songs and remember that first kiss, that first dance, how we felt alive and who we chose to be with. Neri was in his usual being as an artistic provocateur, with his own visual language bordering on irreverence and humor. His appreciation for beauty is boundless as his sense of composition is organic and not theorized by any rules in art school or movement. Think of free form jazz in a kundiman overture.

In Come Together Neri situates “the most written about, the most listened to and the most imitated” band in the world staging a performance before rural folk in an idyllic Amorosolo-inspired setting. An obvious and even oblivious ode to the National Artist as he was always been an influence to Neri.

Another Amorsolo appropriated scene is replicated in Billie Jean. This time Michael Jackson is joined by the seductive Marilyn Monroe while entertaining in front of the people celebrating along the church patio in what seem like a Fiesta revelry.

In merging pop icons in Philippine landscapes, some are familiar and other actual places he frequents, Neri has gone bold and more whimsical with his images. He always borders his “what-ifs” with an impactful pun intended to the situation. Admittedly, there were many artists who also induced popular culture in the visual arts yet it is only Neri who upgrades the discipline by using Philippine culture as soundboard for a primer. He explores our identity rooted in postcolonial jab in brushstrokes while retaining a painterly jest and light-spirited.

Neri highlights that Filipinos are music lovers and songs have a way of remembering the milestones in our lives. These soundtracks are deeply embedded in our heritage and in honoring these memories Neri paints them with layers of influence. He even titles them in accordance to the titles of the songs themselves.

Marilyn Monroe, representing Hollywood glitter and the imperial beauty of the Blonde, has been a recurring fixture in Neri’s past shows, in All About Eve makes another appearance. This time in front of the native tribesmen. A strong nationalist sentiment that will not go away. Neri admits we are immersed with popular culture by sentimentality that it overshadows the indigenous inherent in us.

Neri is an old soul trapped in a modernist body. He watches old films and favors to listen to old songs in his spare time. He even wears a fedora hat as part of his overall packaging. While watching these films or coming across a memorable image, it completely overwhelms him. It is the image that speaks to him. At the right time comes, when there will be an accumulation of images, Neri will remember it and compose his elements around this main subject.

Moonriver is Neri’s take from what was the theme song of the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. This piece features Audrey Hepburn on top of the moon, together with an amalgam of personalities highlighted by General Antonio Luna with roses. Louis Armstrong makes a cameo role serenading what is supposed to be a romantic elopement between two diverse icons.

Billie Jean

Reshuffling history, popular culture, and the contemporary is Neri’s preoccupation with new world order on canvas. Mind you, he is not preachy, he just proposes you with an inquiry towards our identity and politics in an impasto textured manner. Through Neri’s paintings he wanted the viewer to reminisce what he was and how far we have become since he heard these songs. Then maybe we will feel good about ourselves for a while especially there is still no vaccine for the virus in site. Despacito is Neri’s reaction that we will survive this quagmire. Reminiscent of how we surpassed the Spanish influenza during the early 20th century, the current pandemic may even unite us as we heal in unison.

Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. Everyone can identify with this Louis Armstrong classic What a Wonderful World as it contemplates on the grievous mishaps that happened in our midst—that the coronavirus has altered the way we live and prioritized what is significant and meaningful in our lives, in the end it still is a life worth living.

All About Eve

Just Another Woman In Love provides a light banter of a situation wherein a gambler got enticed in a squalor. As he was about to send money to his wife, he was lured to betting for a red rooster only to lose in the end. The red here not only symbolizes love but also of fury when the wife fumed mad at the wasted situation and opportunity.

Jukebox seeks to return to the past not just for the sake of memorable longing for what has been lost but as a presentation of a story of the Filipino that has since evolved and emancipated. In so doing Neri takes the plight of musicians most of whom do not have a record label anymore. All can be heard on Spotify or any digital platform, at a time when record collecting is making a comeback. My Way is self-reflective in a way that if we want change it should start with us—as depicted in the road leading back to where it began: you.

Don't Stop Me Now

Don’t Stop Me Now finds Freddie Mercury with The Beatles crossing along the busiest intersections in Antipolo. It is that junction where Neri frequents while doing his errands and going to the market. Similar to this is that Neri is now at his own crossroad as a mid-career artist that he longs for relevance. He is always on the lookout for new ways of seeing that will speak the times. That one can appreciate contemporary Philippine art while viewing rock and roll on canvas.


Dave Alcon: Too Close for Comfort


Dave Alcon was obviously mesmerized while listening to Upuan by Gloc 9 when as if by instinct--piece by piece--he illustrated chairs on top of one another in a voluminous effort to create an artistic statement. Sign of the times as the contest theme stated--this painting was his entry to a prestigious national painting competition back in January 2019. With the national and local elections upcoming in May, uncertainty was prevalent in the air yet Alcon was too certain of what he was creatively preoccupied with, unmindful of the repercussions of leaving his former job as a graphic artist to fulfill his calling of becoming a full time artist.

While listening to the popular rap song, as if being hypnotized, Alcon instinctively devised chairs as a graphic handle in discovering his new visual direction. True to his gut feel, his own Upuan earned a Special Citation in the Metrobank Arts and Designs Excellence Painting Category. It was the affirmation he longed for, setting it aside for almost nine years.


A chair in your dreams represent the many roles you play in life, as the saying goes. In Beyond Comfort Zone, Alcon’s first solo exhibition at the Boston Gallery, he continued to essay various metaphors of chairs as boundless and as a visual effect, “insurmountable” to our better appreciation. His unique proposition is to transgress chairs as more than just resting place of the body but rather elevating its aesthetics to focusing the mind of the matter at hand. With an all knowing awareness, Alcon’s chairs are remarkable for their infinite emblem of taking to form what his intended concepts can be. The little hours he has invested in them shows how meticulously skillful he ascertain chairs as immortal symbol of self-actualization anointing the social space with their presence.

Consider Courage where his chairs takes to task the heart-shaped image--done in a series--curated into a diamond. Alcon espouses a layering of values renegading discomfort and negativity. Notice how he ends each piece with a different colored chair like proof that everything was manually done by hand with good intentions--ending with an exclamation form.

Empathy is diptych complimentary shows how man and woman need each other to survive. Each colors are reflective in each other’s canvases. His whimsical play of colors are commendable enough proof that one cannot exist without the other.


It is good to note that these pieces were done at the onset when there was still no pandemic and they crossover and were shown during the extreme lockdown. Still Alcon inculcated positiveness in the prevalent gloominess abound. He desired to inject hope like a shot in the arm. His chairs multiplied and became sturdier as they are well-stocked up and filled up his canvases.

It All Starts Within You (A)

Alcon believes whatever change must start with the bearer. It All Starts Within You are portraits of people who could be everyone and anyone advocating "forward action." How Alcon does it is he makes everything as a series that results in a multiplier effect and curated side-by-side one is visually blinded that they become unavoidably contagious. The simplicity of his pieces is overwhelming by their meticulous rendition. Alcon proves this point, in actuality, everything starts with him.

The most basic is the most profound. Six columns in Pillar exudes stability as a show of sheer force. Together they are bound to be an immovable force relating to the sacredness of life. But bound together can extract power of the many.

An Ivatan by decent, Alcon grew up in Batanes with a farming family that sustained them. He too has consistently been planting using his brush and oil paints as his canvases are similar to his fields of dreams. He wants to fill them up so as not to shortchange his viewers even flexing his artistic prowess at every masterpiece he churns out. Preparing for this exhibition, however, was not without trials. He remembers running out of oil paints and his stretched canvases and frames were delayed while he was in the heat of his creation.

Alcon’s visual style are fresh that it eschews prevalent realism and social themes in the art scene yet one admits enthralled by the concepts they emphasize. These recent works shuffles a new order—a kind of going back to basics with a less is more adage. Alcon’s strength is his consistency to his creative purpose in getting his message across to his viewers.


Alcon’s approach to art may be more of a craft than a holistic aesthetic formation yet he has achieved pure spirituality in rendering the visual nature in a convoluted realist content in art in these trying times. As the months preceded after the exhibition’s duration last April, it will be up to Alcon’s viewers to remember and as final arbiter of his familial images if they are as infectious as to their relevance during the time of the pandemic he created them.


Michael Delmo: Painting on a Prayer


Oftentimes to espouse the contemporary, artists painstakingly create alternative realities of their own making. From organic cast of subjects, to ethereal settings, even backing them up with personal myths and mythologies as main conniving narratives.

In his second solo exhibition AMPO (Hiligaynon for prayer) Michael Delmo contemplates further his artistic direction on this ongoing pandemic and pursues his faith in an inner spiritual vision wrought by whimsical creatures in eerie landscapes.

For Delmo, art-making is a form of an in-depth religious undertaking--manifesting your full potential as a way of coping and even surviving these difficult and trying times. These seven paintings reveal a long hollowing narrative how Delmo has interpreted the coronavirus as a menace and as a imaginative tactic of revenge that the inherent good in people will eventually prevail.

The story goes there was once a world where inhabitants were living in harmony. In Sakiyo (steal) an alien creature arrives and imposes a grim influence of greed and terror to the community. The alien creature resembles how the coronavirus has appallingly enveloped our habitat. At the same time he has started to paint for this exhibition, Delmo cleverly establishes the similar parallel act to how even the coronavirus today also came from a foreign country.
Iwag (light) features a mysterious ray of light that has alerted the inhabitants signaling there is gravely something wrong with their surroundings. Pangayam (hunt) announces a cause for alarm as it portrays that one cannot anymore get out of this social quagmire threatening even the outside the world.

Tanghaga (mystery) pushes the plot further by showing the alien creature painstakingly spreading the bad menace on the entire planet. The scenario is overpowering in a sense that the alien creature has completely ruled over his evil agenda. Banlod (confine) causes a sense of fear as one distrusts each other because of the predicament favoring the alien creature. A distressed angel is seen crying for help because his friend was one of those affected and infested with the manipulation as seen in Tanghaga.

Sablok (yearn) witnesses the lamented angel reporting to the abled guardian of the society that his kinfolk was caught and already manipulated by the alien creature. While holding his child the angel complains to what happened as the abled guardian compassionately listens to her. On a positive note, Sagukom (embrace) succumbs as goodness triumphs while the world is at the height its peril. The situation brought out the caring instinct of the inhabitants with one another. The inhabitants begin to be responsible for their upkeep and protection--as long as one remains vigilant and look after beyond himself.

Growing up in Iloilo, Delmo was already exploring these anthropomorphic characters in high school. Delmo was visually honed doing masks and costumes every year for the annual Dinagyang Festival every fourth Sunday of January. Several months prior to the event, he would tag along with choreographers and musicians, they would travel every town researching on local lore, legends and the indigenous expressions of a particular tribe or people. He would hurriedly sketch as they brainstorm on the spot to concoct the plot for the 10-minute at the prized At-Ati dance competition. Each artistic tableau involves history, religion and culture of how the Sto. Niño is venerated to seal the pact between the Datus and the locals. Delmo was able to imbibe the various tribal instincts of the performers. He wanted his designs to be as primarily natural as possible using feathers, beads and sequins and blend well with the audience and environment. Through the years Delmo has acquired his deep Hiligaynon roots and conceptualized his paintings similar to the scene per scene of the Dinagyang epic. This way of story-telling comes second nature to him. No wonder every pictorial frame he churns out is a staged performance in live color. Even his titles are Visayan in origin and scope.

Delmo devises his own paint brushes, sourcing them from discarded chicken feathers. Depending on their application they satisfy his precise brushstrokes and translate his bespoke iconographies. Although his visual style is homegrown he remains to be authentic despite the current art practice today that has evolved into a coy and crass creative exercise.

He is by nature an initiator—wanting to be a trailblazer on his own, away from their conventional modes of mixing paints. With no drawing reference, he usually illustrates from his subconscious straight to an inviting blank white canvas. An early riser, initially he does not yet figure the image yet he knows what it is all about. Delmo is inspired by Hiligaynon words as titles in expounding his ripening world-view. In explaining further, Delmo supposedly feels relief for every concept finished off on canvas—a figurative pierced thorn is taken out of his worries—like an unloaded burden off his back.

Delmo’s realism counters the traditional genres for it to redefine itself into new actualities in its own right. It adheres to that old school of eye to hand skill in service of the imagination. Often eschewing the banal and sacred, it defies fixation with the tested norms. Looking up to his fellow Ilonggo artists as influences, practicing art in the peripheries has taught Delmo new and fresh perspectives he has immortalized with his own distinct and evocative expressions. As if enlightening the viewer, AMPO is striking for its diversity and spontaneity—an in-your-face figurative theater. It has no shared style or desired intentions yet a common thread persists that individually Delmo is capable of imagination and commitment to the craft. His paintings are organically breathing, ethereally impermanent and fixture of contemplation. They continue to grow on you--long after seeing the exhibition and the ongoing pandemic maybe over.

AMPO is ongoing at Art Verite Gallery until August 6, 2020    


Quizon’s Game


Alter Ego
For the living imagination of visual artist Marvin Quizon, it has always been the struggle between rationality and passion--a bitter war against maneuvering clichés—ever since he started mixing paints on canvas for seven years now. His third solo exhibition, Interception, culminates with finality what has been evenly fought for in his previous two exhibitions dealing deeply on positive realizations of pain and suffering like flowers emanating from a rubble.

With the extended lockdown looming at large, Quizon’s sense of time resulted in a moment of temporal unity for these binary opposing forces. Against a contemporary art scene of restlessness, churning out paintings after paintings in every auction, art fair or biennale that comes along, Quizon offers a pregnant pause of the sublime in these six paintings.

There is something in the midst of Bulacan that transposes a poetic element in Quizon. Even with a short distance from Manila, the allure of the province draws the melancholic and even recluses like him. The vast expanse of the remaining rice fields or sudden change of the season—that misty still unpolluted air while cumulative clouds slowly parade—allows one to find sanctuary and immediately seek contemplation. This lieu seems much more conducive to creative people such as musicians, writers more so hungry young artists.

Quizon visualizes purposely how the mind and heart interchangeably return to their constant engagement in the self-titled Interception--a work on paper with three-dimensional cut outs. With radical and energetic determination, Quizon has roamed freely from that conventional into an internal existence of wonder and fantasy. Using tentacles to symbolize the enticing even teasing flirtations of the consciousness, Quizon philosophically quizzes the viewer how man can surrender to himself, give in to temptation, and ultimately succumb to overthinking in a single arrested development.

We are oftentimes hapless victim of our own faulting that we create our own tentacles that continue to rob us blind leaving us in misery. We are trapped by our own making or even our hands become the very tentacles that wallow us. There are times Quizon gets utterly torn as to what his mind says from what his heart feels although deep within he has already made up his heart. Shown in The Antagonist as it tips the scale for once with the brain overwhelmed by his tempting limbs. The figurative brain forms the subliminal octopus which has the ability to protect, defend, overarching itself to cling on something it focuses itself into.

Discordant Comfort Zone
Although everything exists in the brain our deepest desire, and ultimate longing is what our heart wants. The brain is physical while the heart is your soul. The fictitious tentacles envelope the man even becoming the man himself in Alter Ego making it the closest portrait Quizon can depict the blatant personified quagmire he becomes.

In Discordant Comfort Zone Quizon configures idleness as a solitary enemy. Lounging is a feeling of repose, a vacated sofa lingers comfortably while his creativity is held hostage. Done in raw sepia-finish, one is seemingly invited to jump in the comforting pillow-like palm of a giant.

Everyday reality has been distorted, exaggerated, brought to excess, dressed up and supplanted. Time Intercepted is evident to the mechanical call to order by a clock. In his profound solitude Quizon produces exemplary parallelism in counting an infinity of the little hours while painting in lockdown, he reduces the brain to logical rationality and the heart to its purely visual function. It is necessary to purge thought of all that is not in relation to ideas, ridding it of all the myths with which the senses overlay the truth.

Quizon interprets the uncanny in surrealist brushstrokes as Nature of Mind and Soul is a masterpiece rendered in a dream-like manner. In what he interprets as an experiment in psychological layering, found at the dead aim center is a man caught in flames signifying he is in a peril state of saturation. The confusion overwhelms him on whether to be rational or hear the pulsating beat of his heart. The resolution remains evident by the where flowers in bloom.
Time Intercepted
Quizon favors ongoing dialogues of strange objects into a new visual language. These explorations of incongruousness in existence are often highlighted by intricate details and unusual perspectives. Notice the brain and how it is highlighted to represent knowledge. It is inherent that we think what is right for us through where the light leads us. Often he distorts his space using hyperrealism marked by rustic finish and in raw and limited monotone palette often depicting his mood. Quizon is fond of depicting symbols, allegories and odd juxtaposes of objects. The heart is in a dim part but it still glows as it grows. Proof that the heart wants what it wants, it is the soul that benefits. Quizon has even left ample space in the foreground for the viewers to interlude as Quizon opens up the invitation to look intently on the canvas. There is an open clamor as the viewer could even get burned by his fatal indecision.
Compared to his contemporaries, Quizon prefers his slow creative process to be long and arduous. Quizon paints everyday leaving only a day to regain his momentum. He usually does rough sketches and writes his thoughts. He continues with unfinished studies as he conceptualizes further on canvas. Quizon is organic in approach that he usually ends up adding from what his initial studies were. He accepts this as his visual style—a way of surrendering into his subconscious. Sometimes Quizon ends up with a different yet more improved version of his initial studies.
The Antagonist
He then proceeds to photograph his references even edits them in his computer as he is well-versed to be. He proceeds to layer his oil paints how the way masters like his influence Rembrandt of the 17th century Dutch Golden Age does it. He finishes off by color glazing much like the way his fellow artists from Bulacan do theirs as well.

Upon careful reflection on his pieces, Quizon subdues his colors to suit his intended emotions. Quizon is an old soul at barely 26 years old, his commitment to his craft and his pursuit for artistic emancipation reflects within his soft-spoken character. In the end, he believes we can love completely without even complete understanding.

Nature of Mind and Soul

Interception by Marvin Quizon is an ongoing virtual exhibition at the Art Cube Gallery. It can be viewed through Art Steps. Log on to artsteps.com/download the Artsteps App.


Marco Banares: Notes to Myself


Takot sa Sariling Multo
The nation-wide lockdown revealed what people value the most—safety, family, food—necessary in that order. And artists, similar to medical frontliners, felt the strongest impact and their immediate impulse is to creatively react at their inner core putting their sentiments using acrylic and oil paints on canvases.

In the seven paintings comprising Inbox by Marco Banares, his first solo exhibition at Secret Fresh Gallery, he becomes deeply-disturbed with the ongoing covid-19 crisis while indignantly returning to his truest sense of realism. This time Banares eschews hyperrealist fantasies, appropriation and speculation that have initially characterized his previous collective output captivating his viewers’ and collectors’ appreciation. By spending more time in solitude these past weeks, Banares bared out his soul while intently reflecting, imagining and aesthetically innovating his learned values and basic character--first as a human being, next as a contemporary painter--as he attempted to make interesting ordinary and everyday occurrences.

One Day
In what could be his most intimate pieces in almost a decade of art practice, the framed parables of Inbox uses the visual pun of masks (derived from the medical kind) as a concealing device for many of his character metaphors. Banares does not have the illusion of waiting for his muse to paint. He lives the working class existence, painting every day--starting early in the morning and finishing overtime late at night. He struggles daily with his art-making in dignity for his family’s survival.
Being a father to two boys, Banares interprets the relevance of his responsibility being a father churning out creativity for a living. His Law of Attraction sets the tone for this exhibition. If one is positive and faithful to God one imbibes hope beaming with goodness. In a contemplative stance, portrayed is an image in deep thought pushing kindness forward as one’s positive deed will never be put to waste.

Banares has taken this elder role seriously, Kung Ano ang Puno, Siya rin ang Bunga is a testament that children become who and what they want to be as seen in their elder’s example since they have already seen the bad side of life in their own growing years. While offspring are young and impressionable we must already correct their initial wrongdoings. Notice how Banares renders his subjects in a tableau-like stage with the father disguised as a Philippine eagle--acting his part. On a clear blue sky, Banares has done a dual role advocating the saving of the Philippine eagle in near extinction; how as parents our stay on earth is also the beauty of the temporal.

Kung Ano Ang Puno, Siya Rin Ang Bunga
The Show Must Go On sternly takes his defense on persons with depression, disability and those helpless victims being bullied—issues close to his heart. Showing a boy on a broken bicycle, Banares encourages that they blindly pedal forward leaving and setting aside those who put you down.

The Show Must Go On
Time and again masks used in art have appeared in various scenarios for different periods. Most popular among them are used in protest or with surreal pronouncements. Banares use of mask may be similar to how one’s conscience influences one’s perspective in awareness. It may hide the identity of the wearer but for Banares mask empowers his subjects aiding his messages and simulating theatricality as an operative norm as he desires to put up a show for us to be entertained while being educated than visually preaching from a high chair.

Takot sa Sariling Multo reminds us to think before we act and warns us of the negativity of being a thinker-doers—people who are evil enough to find fault in others when they themselves are at fault.

Humility is something inherent in Banares and pride being the virtue he abhors. Mga Dunung-Dunungan Pero Wala Namang Alam sums up all his pent up emotions and takes a pun on men full of themselves, as if they know it all. In a fit of disgust our hero holds up his bare horns in desperation of hate.

One Day is his clamor for change. If one is disillusioned with the way events are happening in the world, we would just have to look through the eyes of a child and invest in the uplifting of their future. In the end, Banares is optimistic and this painting affirms this belief that everything’s going to be fine as long as one trusts the process. The clean air and nurturing foliage are signs of better days to come.

Mga Dunung-Dunungan Pero Wala Namang Alam
Comfort Zone is a portrait of Banares daring himself. More of self-realization as he was painting these pieces, it was a feeling of confidence and comfort that he was able to pull it through. For an artist to grow one must force himself to get out of his box and flex his muscles and explore his basic freedom to be a poet of the palette.

Comfort Zone
Banares was on lockdown himself in his studio when he was able to contemplatively probe and freely express the episodes of his life. Perhaps it can be argued that maybe he decided to make up for the utter convenience and sheer commercialism of his previous visual style that his isolation was beneficial of what painterly language he wants to return to—now he is at home. As plurality reigns in the current art scene, Banares seeks to be relevant than be popular this time--his two boys were watching him while he painted these.