Dondon Jeresano: His Real Estate Business


I believe I was born an activist through art.

--Dondon Jeresano

Estado comes at a time when a fresh mandate has just been handed over by the people, suspending much of our disappointment and illusions in temporarily disbelief from the previous presidential administration on the side. At a period when much of Philippine art being produced these days are from the dictates of auctions or personal emojis, Dondon Jeresano continues his in-depth expositions to the blatant wrongdoings of society by unraveling deeper into that quagmire of what destructs the very root of the system that governs us. Using architectural interiors of the very institutions that commands the governed as loci, Jeresano conforms aesthetically with the whys and not necessary the hows of their contexts to the messaging they seek to impart to its viewers.

When architect Daniel Burnham planned Manila during the Commonwealth period he made sure elegance and permanence as the cornerstones of American legacies following Roman and Greek examples. These institutional buildings of our branches of government—executive, legislative and judiciary--would reflect the sense of dignity and power that emanated from what they represent. The three states of power consist of the visible expressions of governance, laws, and justice as symbols of our acquired democracy in action.

Lost in Paradise
Lost in Paradise is a rowdy depiction of a dysfunctional presidency’s as seen in his sordid representative office at the Old Malacanang. With loss of faith and respect, the aesthetic chaos is best represented by the composition lambasting our leaders prioritizing themselves than others. With the floors creative deconstructed, fluffy cakes speak of the lust for greed; of having it and eating it too. As his signature take, Jeresano prominently floats showing him involved to its solution. Man is inherently lustful for power and fame as Jeresano’s art cascades to find significance to this artistic fixture. He imparts it is in rising from one’s fall, when one learns, his lessons one becomes strongest in every challenge.
The Supreme Court Hall of Justice in An Apple a Day is often venerated as sacred ground breeding equality to the law. However it is often the scene of purges with blood-stained clothes of hapless victims, piling up amounting to delayed justice. A drifting apple embodying the truth blends while headless magistrates abound showing disrespect for the law and order complete the goriness of this picture. How often has this estate been used as the affirmation of a lie well told a thousand times you are even convinced of its reverse falsehood.
An Apple a Day
Main Attraction is a powerful allegory of poverty being neglected by a shanty inside the classic interiors of the Old Senate Session Hall. Disturbing sensibilities social realism has never been pleasing to the eyes. One should train to view how it strains the eyes. Jeresano presents it at it is—right smack to your face. The Old Senate Session Hall was the oldest and longest home of our lawmakers. It has been the last refuge of the those who have less in life. Pillows-abound representing dreams of ordinary people such as a place to sleep on with roof over their head.

Main Attraction
With a background in architecture Jeresano’s realism remains steadfast as a fusion of social commentary and contemporary imagery. It always has strong political contents while his aesthetics revolve around anatomies and allegories of people confronting the dark perils of their lives. Always leaning towards the cause of the multitude have been oppressed, he tackles problems as his luring appeal lies in the composition making sure his symbols freely converse each other. It may not sit well in the proper gallery set up. It may have the formal mechanism of art but it seems comfortable seen outdoors or in the streets.

He usually starts by finding his themes by painstakingly researching for them. He then finds the architectural perspective to go with it, even the choice of exterior or interior is compulsively interesting. Upon finalizing, he then sketches on canvas only to finish with color.

Untold Story 1
Jeresano’s art yearns for something beyond. With architecture backdrop as particulars, a dialogue among iconographic images attempts something critical and profundity emerges. With an antiestablishment pun in presence of barber chairs these tales are what seems to be a consistent influx of sham drudgery and broken dreams. What is not taken seriously leaves bad taste in the mouth and gut as in Untold Stories where small pieces forming triptychs compliment and enrich his main pieces.

Estado doubly reflects the current situation of the prevalent disillusion from the powers-that-be. It is also the governing body that rules at the present in all of us. Jeresano would want us to be vigilant of whatever false hope our government imparts to us. A realist by heart, it is his distinct visual style he has crafted that marvels us to move forward. He is most comfortable with and his audience could best identify. It is the blatant reality we all witness daily, even turn a blind eye to.


Jeresano identifies with the low and downtrodden. He forces himself to paint what they should know in their lives as his desire to let his art pinch the heart of the viewer. As an activist he does not clenches his fist rather he painterly applies his advocacies and issues on his many a canvases. More than this challenges him he wants people to recognize themselves in his paintings; upon revealing only can their emancipation begin.    

 Estado is ongoing at the Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo City.

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