Bacolod art has long been dominated by the old guard: stalwarts like Budot Lizares, Charlie Co, Rafael Paderna and Nunelucio Alvarado, but their patronage of young artists has allowed eager acolytes to step up to the plate and dish out their own creative ouevres. These fab five are well on their way to fame, each with their own distinctive style that is sure to capture the crazy art market.
1. Junjun Montelibano, 38, Leo
Straddling both the cinematic and theater world with his set designs for Peque Gallaga’s productions, as well as the visual arts field with his intermittent exhibits, Junjun Montelibano whips out humorous confections that are light on the surface and easy on the eye. However, Junjun’s canvasses shouldn’t be taken at face value. They’re loaded with subtle messages and political statements that, combined with his presentation, can cause a bit of discomfort.
Alien eyes painted on little girls faces remind one of the Stepford Wives, though surely less lethal and more endearing than those urban myths. A couple makes out in a red convertible, but there is a rattler hiding in the fields. A ballerina whirls on stage, but we see the numerous feet of her audience members, and they don’t seem entirely human. A lonely couple is having dinner, but on their long table is laid their meal: a skewered heart.
Junjun’s brain is fertile ground for ideas and concepts that are apt to whirl you about and give you a dizzying ride. Collecting his works are sure to keep you grinning from ear to ear, as there’s always some amusing new detail you never noticed that will pop out and make itself seen next time you look. Sometimes, his works get mistaken for Charlie Co’s due to the thin surreal-impressionist feel that is reminiscent of Charlie’s style, but a fan can immediately differentiate his canvasses from other, similar works.
After winning best production designer for Indie Movies in the recent Star Awards (for Peque Gallaga’s film, Sonata) Junjun is now preparing for his next one-man show this May. Expect nothing less than delightful dream visions from this guy – with just a bit of nightmare to balance things out.
2. Roderick Tijing, 32, Sagittarius
Surreal but still cute. There’s an intellectual conversation going on between Roderick’s canvasses and his viewers, what with his surrealistic approach to his subjects, but the meaning of that conversation may take a bit of processing time while we are distracted by enjoyable images of elephants, turtles, and bunnies.
Alien life forms, rotund blue men, and mutant octopi populate Roderick’s world, but then he cheekily situates them in some meadow in the Swiss Alps (where he spent a couple of impressionable years), a tactic guaranteed to discombobulate a public trying to make sense of his message. Is there a message? Apparently plenty, as seems to be evident from the fact that his fans snap up his works.
April 2014 saw Roderick’s latest one-man show, The Return of the King, at Nova Gallery, which is also his fifth. Also carried by Orange Gallery in Bacolod and Canvass Gallery in the capital, Roderick makes it a point to attend art fairs and conventions to make sure he gets the cosmopolitan exposure he needs to evolve. But note the already mature sensibility to his pieces, and be sure that this youngster will rule the roost.
3. Hilario “Doods” Campos: 34, Pisces
Architect by day and sketch artist at night, Doods lets us in his own zany world of monsters that sometimes remind one of Maurice Sendak, but set amidst the more familiar environs of Bacolod City.
Sharks let loose on Lacson Street, right in front of the local McDonalds. Giant tikbalangs waiting on top of the neighborhood police station. Furry creatures with beaks riding astride a jeepney en route to the mall. This strange mixture of the commonplace with the horrifying, which somehow makes the result even more creepy, is what we get from the quiet, unassuming Doods.
But there are innocent lasses a-plenty in his canvasses, mingling with the fantastic and the otherworldly. Sometimes, it feels like he is telling a fairy tale where princesses ride atop dragons to slay giant water lilies or magic mushrooms. Or is it the other way around?
Doods specializes in pen and ink sketches. His choice of media makes it easy for him to whip out works (that talent allowed him to make a killing from the sketches he toiled on just the week before the recent Art in the Park in Salcedo). But his ideas are anything but easy to come by: Doods’ imagination is a font of concepts both bizarre and profound. Feted by the United Architects of the Philippines for his visual arts acumen, Doods also dabbles in t-shirt design and, of course, bringing beautiful structures to life.
4. Jay-R Delleva, 33, Aries
Jay-R credits his toddler of a daughter with his art. Or rather, his daughter’s toys, because, as he says, that’s where most of his ideas come from. There’s Humpty Dumpty and the Cheshire cat grinning out at you, there’s a wind-up doll and a cute teddy. It’s a delightful kiddie land you find yourself in, with colorful boots and angels with magic potions twirling with jesters and balloons.
But his ideas aren’t all kindergarten stuff: Jay-R is also known for piling on animal heads atop human faces, and a rabbit peering over a motorist or a wolf coiled above a maiden’s fair tresses is par for the course with this guy. Those humongous eye-bags typically bestowed by him on his protagonists can hardly be characterized as kid stuff as well.
Jay-R dreads the day his daughter outgrows her toys, but he shouldn’t be so worried. After all, this artist went through at least three different college courses before deciding, at the ripe old age of 27, to enroll in Fine Arts just so he could learn to draw. If his creative urges were that strong, there’s no doubt it will come out in some fashion or another, toys or no toys. And after his fifth consecutive one-man show at Orange Gallery (although he is also carried by Qube Gallery in Cebu and Nova Gallery in Manila), Jay-R is sure to churn out some more of those strong, vivid imagery that has defined his works and set them apart from plenty of other whimsically-bent artists.
5. Cindy Ballesteros: 32, Aries
Cindy’s works are as saccharine as her name. Her usual palette is pastel: mint greens, sky blues, and butter yellows. The motifs are lighthearted and very whimsical, and there is always a sense of fun and play projected by her canvasses.
All in all, an encounter with Cindy’s output is a blessed relief from the typical Ilonggo artist angst against the oppression of sugar barons, or the social realists who force us to confront life’s grim realities while attempting to engage our aesthetic sensibilities. Instead, we are treated to white washed 60’s style pop: a world full of soda fountains, jalopies, and aviator glasses.
Cindy is very active in Bacolod’s art community, and also takes time to take care of Bacollywood, Bacolod’s annual film fest, and the art conventions in the Visayas. Despite her many creative outlets though, expect to see more of Cindy’s visual art output, as last March saw her one-woman show, entitled “Candy Colored Skies”, practically sold out, a feat that will surely inspire this promising artist to keep spinning her fairy-tale vision onto her canvasses.
This post was written by contributor JT Gonzales. JT is an art enthusiast and collector who has written about Filipino artists and the local art scene in several national and regional publications. He also writes a regular column in the Opinion section of the Freeman, the Cebu affiliate of the Philippine Star.