Sunday, 3 September 2017

Revellers




Revellers
Of Merrymaking and the Monsters who Make Merry

My exhibit last year was the fulfillment of an almost-forgotten dream to make a series of paintings depicting Philippine festivals. With Revellers, I wanted to take a closer look at local festivals, not just in themselves but also at some festival customs, as well as individual festivalgoers.

I wanted to focus particularly on individuals at the festivals because of the tendency to look at these events as a whole. Festivals are generally this great mass of people, many of whom dance en masse in the street in fancy costumes (or maybe they’re not costumes…), so it’s tough picking just one out of the crowd. 

A Party in Himself

If you think about it, it’s individuals coming together that make a festival happen. What kind of person shows up at a festival? Why does he go? What makes him get out of bed—early, as like as not, to get things ready, get all dolled up, and get out there and party? Maybe this person has no real reason to celebrate; a frown would suit his circumstances better than a fiesta. But he puts his gameface on, anyway, and revels with the rest of them. 

To me, that shows character, a sort of never-say-die spirit that, as Dumas puts it, chooses to “strike back at fate in retaliation for the blows they receive”, instead of “suffering and swallowing their tears at leisure”. It was this spirit that I hoped to discover beneath the feathers, sequins, and scales, and I figured that it makes more sense to celebrate this spirit with just one person in the picture instead of a whole town.

In celebrating the courage of this individual spirit, each person becomes a party in himself, and when you put all those individual parties together, you get one, big party, which is exactly what a festival is.

A “Fantasy Philippines”

I prefer using the term “person” because of the general association of the term, “human” with the Homo sapiens physiology. I’ve always maintained that it is not the body that makes someone “human”; oftentimes, it’s the people who might appear more or less human who are more human than, well, humans.

Given the possibility that someone who might have blue fur or horns or a tail is also a person, this, to my mind, makes them not just fitting subjects for portraiture, but the subjects of a fantastic, parallel Philippines. I like to think this, “dimension”, if you will, either used to exist or co-exists with the one we live in, now.

And when I say “co-exist”, I don’t mean separately but concurrently—monsters (which is the quick and easy term I prefer to use for non-humans in spite of the term's general connotation) are all around us, I think. Most of us just can’t see them, is all. Maybe someday, we’ll all be able to; maybe we could, even now, if we opened our eyes and our minds wide enough. 

Spot My “Sitters”

Here are the 12 festivals and festival customs I’ve featured in this exhibit; see if you can identify the individual festivalgoers I’ve made portraits of in each of them.
  • The Kinabayo Festival is celebrated on July 25th in Dapitan, of which Saint James the Great is patron. They re-enact the Spanish-Moorish wars where Saint James himself appeared wielding a sword and riding a white horse. 
  • The Kabayo Festival is held every February in Mandaue City. They decorate tartanillas and hold a parade and a horse race. I imagine tikbalangs in particular would thoroughly enjoy this festival, or probably have a version of their own.
  • The Salubong is an Easter custom practised in several parts of the country. I painted this one from memory, when I saw one in Angono some 20-odd years ago with my grandparents, uncle and aunt. The four great birds that flew outward from the giant “banana flower” in the centre made a distinct impression on me.
  • The Apo Duwaling festival in Davao, now the Kadayawan, was named after Mount Apo, the Durian, and the Waling-waling. Carried away by the description of the Durian as “the King of Fruit” and the Waling-waling as the “Queen of Orchids”, I ended up showing how the King went for a walk with the Queen through the rainforests of Mount Apo. 
  • The Feast of the Holy Cross of Wawa in Bocaue (which is where my beloved step-grandmother’s from) features a fluvial procession in July with a floating pagoda. I’ve featured five, pale reflections of actual pagodas, which are followed round about by swimmers and smaller boats.
  • Carrozas in procession are another custom which often features in Philippine festivals. My family and I often walk in procession behind a carroza on certain feast days; I know why we go, but I’m not sure all of the people who watch us go by, do.
  • The Flores de Mayo is a festival honouring Our Lady, and holding a Santacruzan is The Custom at that festival. The sagalas in my Santacruzan are dressed in Philippine flowers, as are the little girls who walk to church carrying flowers for the Blessed Virgin Mary.
  • It is customary to play Palo-Sebo at fiestas; I hadn’t known before doing this show that the actual climbing starts off as a “group project”. It doesn’t make the climb any less riveting or impressive, though.
  • Buntings are customary for festivals pretty much everywhere, but during the Feast of Santa Rita in the town of the same name in Pampanga, they hang umbrellas above the streets, instead—forming an overhead “rainbow road” leading to the Santa Rita Parish Church. 
  • The Bailes de Luces festival of La Castellana, Negros Occidental is held in thanksgiving for the previous year’s blessings and in the hope of having another good year. This festival will be 20 years old this year.
  • The Basket Festival of Antequera in Bohol, on the other hand, is an even newer festival (although the town itself is some 140 years old). My uncle, the lifestyle editor went to cover the festival recently and brought me back a nifty basket, which I used in the painting and still use every day.
  • The Butanding Festival of Donsol features a parade where everybody (human or non-) sports spots. I figured it was a great way for land-dwelling monsters like aswangs and bangungots to  party with water-dwellers like shokoys and the tambanokano’s descendants on their home turf, as it were, for once.

- Jill Arwen Posadas
July 22nd 2017

> Just thought I'd share the original invite my sister made me, as well as my original exhibit notes, written in my own voice (if not 100% in my own words lol), explaining what this show's about and why I did what I did. 

And now I want to say thank you, all in my words, to the people without whom this show would not have been possible:

In Heaven: The Holy Trinity, Mama Mary, my Guardian Angel, Saint Luke, Blessed Fra Angelico, Saint Francis de Sales, Saint Charles Borromeo, Saint Catherine of Bologna, Saint Ephrem, Saint Joseph, Saint Maria Goretti, Saint Dominic Savio, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Lawrence, Saint Benedict, Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Aloysius, Saint Alphonsus, Saint Mary Magdalene, Saint Augustine, Saint Matthias, Saint Catherine of Sienna, Saint Cecilia, Saint John, Saint Jude, Saint Rita, Saint Philomena, Saint Claire, Saint Gabriel, Saint Raphael, The Holy Souls, Saint Matthew, Saint Cajetan

On Earth: My mom. My dad. Mr Mon del Rosario, Mr Ed Chua. My sister. My sister's friends, who sat for me: Isab, Isobel, Krishna, Liz, David, Ivan, JP and Jum (sorry, guys, did my best ^^; ). Daylin, for her unwavering support. Ella for sitting for me, too. My cousin Ands for letting me paint my fairy godchild, Allegra. Sir Vincent. Sir Hendry. Mr Jon for knowing what I was up to outside of office hours but allowing me to get up to it, anyway. Fi and Celine. Rhea. Jovan and Mariel for coming through at crunch time. Fr Saa and Fr Peter Fortin. Jones. And to Mr Mark Shellshear of Galeria de las Islas for his kindness.

Previews will be up shortly at jill-arwen-posadas.weebly.com. And I will be out shortly ~ for how long (for real, this time?), I don't know. But one thing's for sure ~ I will never run out of thanks, or things I want to paint. I just need to rest a little, maybe and do a little thinking.

Thank you, everyone. ^_^;

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

It's okay, I make lamb.




So the theme this year was... "ultimate sacrifice", I think. Let me check... so sorry, it was "Lamb of God". (Close!) I wanted to follow in the footsteps of... Rembrandt and Caravaggio and paint Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac (the Akedah ("the binding of Isaac") ~ or well not really, was just aware of the fact of this being a favourite subject of the old masters ^^ ("Will I ever be as great as the old masters?" ^____^)

Things are twice (thrice, quadruply, quintuply) as hectic as they've ever been and I've scarce a moment to catch my breath ~ am in between paint and pencils, at the moment on #...7 of 24 (*fights off despair*) so I just thought I would, catch my breath lol ~ most fortunate the gallery being near the house as it is, so I'd just time in between content plans and articles to afk, peep in, take a quick pic and get back to one of a bazillion things the bosses need this week.

I'm going to say blessed, now, instead of fortunate, to have had the support of family and friends in putting this poor half-sheepie on the altar ~ I put him there because, well, that nice man who owns the other gallery? Mr Mark? Had been telling Mom n me about how he took his little girl x how his sister had gone to see this lamb get turned into lamb chop in front of them, because we had just been talking, for some reason, about how the poor things never cry out when they become food, they just cry u_u

So I couldn't help thinking about that ever after (I don't know why, I'm just like that) and that's why we have this poor kid (lamb, rather lol) up on the sticks n rocks. Cos for me "ultimate sacrifice" is giving it all, and wanting to, and not making a big fuss over it or, something.

I don't mean to sound irreverent, so sorry, "I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not." (Got some nerve, I know!) But I am grateful, super ~ to God, and Mama Mary and my Guardian Angel and aaall my friend saints for helping me stay up and squeeze this out and in, in time ~ now I can replace last year's sheepie which was still on the front page of my folio ^^;

Thank you ever so kindly to Mr D for having me in this show and for putting sheepie II up in spite of the frame being too big (meow, sorry, super, hardly anything I could do). To Bassints for taking a nice photo (cos we all know jill can't take no photos). To Mom for bringing me to the gallery real quick (and to the framer!) and back.

And to Daylin and Ella for their unwavering support and encouragement. Truly, the Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away ~ but He giveth again ~ and again, and again, often in places you're least likely to look. Thank you thank you, Sirens ^_~



Friday, 23 September 2016

Turn of the Century








Ordinarily I'd put better pictures of the pictures ^^; But there's kind of a lot this time around ^^;

So Mr. Mark, the owner of the gallery where I had my last show very kindly included these pieces from, my last show ^^; in this exhibit that featured work from the past hundred or so years ~ I'm not sure if I heard x remembered correctly somebody making a speech said 145? There were so many people, and there was like a ceremony and stuff ~ there was even a fashion show (fashion design is an art, after all), and I got my picture taken next to this model who stood next to my painting (that was a little awkward for me; you know how I feel about picture-taking ^^; )

It was an awesome experience and I'm really glad I went for a little; I can't really believe I was in the same show as Amorsolo and Hidalgo and Saprid and Tampinco! And I'm glad my sister and one brother and my mum n dad went, too ^_^ (Thank you, Bassints for taking these photos for me ^_^**)

Thank you, Mr. Mark, Mr. Christian, and everybody at Galeria de las Islas. Thank You, God. And thank you to all those people out there who are taking care of my country's art, saving it for future generations. Maybe someday like long after I'm dead people will still be able to see my stuff (not that I'm assuming they'll be looking) (well I'm sure all artists think x dream of that ^^; )

For the here n now I'm just happy to be able to make stuff and, if anybody will have it, let me put my stuff out there. I'll be putting up the pieces from Pistá up on my folio soon; maybe during my vacation!! To which I'm looking forward with great gusto... And maybe I'll have one or two other things up on there, as well... We'll see ^_^;

Friday, 9 September 2016

Playing With My Food






So this year I was so very grateful they let me join Ang InK's 25th anniversary show, Tinker Tales, which opens this Monday. I wish I could've helped out more with the preparations! I was just there yesterday, trying to ^_^; It's gonna be awesome and all the works are fabulous!! It's truly an honour for me to just be there. 

So this time around the theme is stories written by children ~ I got this story about a Bitoy and a Bongkok, who had a nasty run-in with a cactus in the city of Mongkok, which was run by a Mayor Prutas, and is apparently frequented by a Senator Egg. Seeing as there was food involved I decided to make everyone and everything in the illustrations food, possibly because I was running real low on energy at the time (yes, in spite of my bad working habit) and food was all I could think about ^_^; So the food in the pictures is mainly food I like to eat best (sorry, I am not at all what one would call a healthy eater). I understand the stories were assigned to all of us at random, and this story was written by Kio Magno, of the Raya School. 

It amazes me when I think about how very long ago it was when I joined Ang InK. That's one thing I owe my grandmother for. I've been told how she's been felt floating around my uncle of late so I hope she floats on by to see the show, and knows how grateful I am to her for getting me to join in spite of my insecurities and lack of talent or whatever and how I wish she actually was here to see it. Well like Dumas once wrote, they say the dead know everything.

Thank You God, and Dear Mama Mary (I'm so sorry) and to my Guardian Angel and aaall my friend saints for eking these last three pictures out of me before I *collapsed* entirely ~ one last burst of strength after somehow completing everything for Pistá. I think it might be a long while before I can make anything properly again, although, I have quite a few things cooking in my noodle at present ~ just need to find the wherewithal (i.e. the energy) to bring them out of my head and into the world, because like Shaffer once wrote, it's no good to anybody in your head ^_^;



Thursday, 28 July 2016

Pistá


video



So here, finally, after ten years, is PISTÁ. In a word (or well a few) it's a bunch of re-imagined Philippine festivals, all done up in acrylic and oil pastel. ("My hairdresser says that everything this year is going to be acrylic and oil pastel." ^_^) Or well we'll let the exhibit notes I prepared for the gallery do the talking ^_^;

***

The seeds of this show were first sown some ten years ago. I wanted to make a series of paintings showing monsters enjoying themselves at Philippine festivals, using a technique I enjoy very much, myself. 

My use of oil pastels on acrylic is meant to be a free-spirited, playful technique evoking the drawings of children, because I wanted to be able to see these festivals through a child's eyes—to be able to just enjoy all the colour and movement (and fancy costumes, that made people look more (or less) than human). 

Now that I'm finally able to get Pistá on the road, I find myself thinking whether the me of about ten years ago would've even imagined the stuff I've been able to discover (let alone make) in preparation for this show. I knew my people liked to party, and that we were into things like processions and stuff, but really, it showed how little I actually knew of this most salient part of my country's culture, and how vague those early ideas, or mental images I had actually were.

I did go to a Pahiyas once, when I was 15. I never, EVER forgot it. And my grandfather took me to a Salubong over in Angono once when I was in my early 20s, I think. And I did a Santacruzan once when I was about 12. (I'll bet I was the only kid there with stuffed animals stuck to the arch thing they were carrying over my head.)

Having said that, I'd like to say I am very glad indeed I got to do this show, now, in my ripe old age, because now I think I am better able to appreciate things. And I think the thing I appreciate most, or what I loved most, to discover about my people, is that no matter how BAD things get in this country, we always manage to celebrate—and find things or reasons to celebrate. I love that about us. And also I think we need it.

I admit I didn't expect to find that we had so many happy goings on, all year round, in this country (shows how much I know, AGAIN, about my own country)—I think even if I painted for ten years I couldn't possibly paint them all (it might be fun to try, though). And I love how so many of these festivals have fascinating back stories to them, and how new festivals are being invented all the time. Because like I said, as a people we always manage to keep our chins up and find it in ourselves, as well as find something or some reason to celebrate. 

On a personal level, there were a bunch of other things I discovered while preparing for this show, many of which were not exactly celebratory in nature. But in spite of this, I think, it's sort of like that thing where you become what you paint? So I'm going to celebrate anyway, and just focus on the things worth celebrating, and the things I have to be thankful for. A lot of the festivals I came across in my researches for this show were meant to be for thanksgiving. That says something, I think—about my people and about me, as being one of them, after all. 

Because to me, each of these paintings is like a little party on paper. I meant for them to be like snapshots taken in a fantasy world, a fantasy Philippines where monsters hang out, even with humans, sometimes, and everybody gets along, celebrates, and parties. 

So I'm hoping that anyone who comes to see the paintings, will come to party, as it were, with me.

- June17th 2016

***

As always, I may have been working alone (like in my room), but, I'm never really alone (many were the times I wish I was, though LOL). Which means I have several People and people to thank, so, if you'll allow me ~

THANK YOU, Dear God · Mama Mary · Guardian Angel · Saint Luke · Blessed Fra Angelico · Saint Francis de Sales · Saint Charles Borromeo · Dear Saint Catherine of Bologna · Saint Ephrem · Saint Joseph · Saint Maria Goretti · Saint Dominic Savio · Saint Thomas Aquinas · Saint Lawrence · Saint Benedict · Saint Michael the Archangel · Saint John Chrysostom · Saint Aloysius · Saint Alphonsus · Saint Mary Magdalene · Saint Augustine · Saint Matthias · Saint Catherine of Sienna · Saint Cecilia · Saint John · Saint Jude · Saint Rita · Saint Philomena · Saint Claire · Saint Pancratius · Saint Matthew and the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

Thank you so much to Fr Saa · Mom · Dad · Bassints · Hopa · Mozart (and Bizet, Rossini, Puccini and Gilbert and Sullivan ^o^) 

Thank you to Mr Shellshear for giving me this show and to Mr Regis, Miss Czarina and Miss Rachel for all their help. Thank you to Mr Jon for not being my first boss to know what I did after office hours, but for being the first in my looong career to truly support it. 

And thank you to the friends who saw me through most of almost eight and a half months of looong, interminable, caffeine x taurine-fueled nights ~ especially to my future-veterinarian friend, who once told me art was useless to society and was disgusting as a career, but whose kind and unwavering support without really knowing what I was doing saw me through many a stressful week ~ and to my other friend who always says she likes my work, even though she thought my party horns were slices of pizza ^O^***

I think perhaps I really am going on sabbatical next year, which deep down is a really scary decision for me to make but I think my human component is making this decision for me, at last. ("The spirt is willing but the flesh is weak.") 

So this might be my last show for a while; I hope it won't be my last-last (or super last (or however many Filipino "lasts" you want). Because there are stiiiiiilll so maaaaaaany things I want to paint. But maybe I'd like to paint them with natural energy instead of the kind that comes in a bottle or a can ^_^; So I guess I kind of need this hiatus to figure things out. 

So in a way, this is my Going-Away Pistá ^_^; I hope it won't be too long before the "Welcome Back" one ^o^; If you'd like to see some previews of what the parties look like, just head on over to jill-arwen-posadas.weebly.com.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Sheepie's Nest



So I got extremely lucky this year and they put my flying sheepie on the invite ^_^; I'm real grateful for that and real grateful I got to do the flying sheepie at all ^^; Things have just been, difficult, lately, so, but God is so very, very good to me (most undeserving as I am) and I was able to get this sheepie out of my head and onto a piece of paper!!

So I used the technique I'm using for my show this year, oil pastel on acrylic ~ thought I'd try doing something *serious* with a media combo I've heretofore used for *just playing around*. So I think perhaps I shall explore this side of that technique more often in the future...

...although that may be -not- the near future because I'm seriously considering going on hiatus x taking a sabbatical from exhibiting next year ~ it should've been this year but, one thing led to another and here I am ^^; I admit I do vacillate on this from time to time because, well every single time I get to exhibit anywhere is a miracle (for which I'll be eternally grateful) and I'm not sure I'll be able to get back on the horse once I jump off. But anyway ~

So that's all nine of us in the nest (even though two of us have technically left it) (and I daresay the mum n dad birds wish the rest of us would too) ^_^;

Thank You, God, thank you Dear Mama Mary, Dear Guardian Angel and all my "friend Saints" (the list just keeps growing alongside all the favours and blessings and graces that just keep coming) ~ especially Dear Saint Luke, Blessed Fra Angelico, Saint Maria Goretti, Saint Michael the Archangel and Dear Saint Joseph, as well as Dear Saint Jude, Saint Philomena, Saint Rita, Saint Clare, Saint Pancratius, Saint Matthew and the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Thank you forever to my mom, my sister for taking excellent, excellent, excellent photos, Father Saa and to Sir Delan for inviting me -and- for putting my sheepie on the invite. You see, people have been so very good to me as well. Thank you! And thank you to the rest of my family for coming all the way to the opening, too (and to my brother and his lovely wife for the lovely dinner afterwards).

As always, you'll find my sheepie in my online folio at http://jill-arwen-posadas.weebly.com/, and my hopes to be able to keep creating (and to keep getting better at it) somewhere way up there, floundering occasionally but so far never completely extinguished ^_^;

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Horton


An old friend of mine and I were chowing down on these fantastically large bentos recently and we got around to talking about our pets; specifically about how we had the great misfortune to lose them. As we reminisced, I was reminded that every pet is special (and I don't mean that in an 'incredible' way). 

Once in a looong while, though, you come across this one, eeextra special pet whose *specialness* isn't just bestowed on it by its owners, but is honestly and truly all its own. 

Horton of Playa la Caleta was a real personality. I could tell stories about him you would have to experience to believe, as I understand that hearing about a dog who literally takes care of his master's guests may be difficult to take at face value. But people really did literally go to *his* beach just to see him; I know I did, and all the stories fell far short of the reality. He was so funny and charming, and thoughtful and accommodating ~ not that he was an angel; he once right before my eyes tried to drown his colleague, a hapless black dachshund, for trying to horn in on his act. Even so, he was everyone's best friend on the beach, whether you were on two legs or four.

I really wish I could've gotten to know Horton better; I was hoping he would get to know me better, too. But everyone's favourite 'thing' about Playa passed away quite suddenly; it was quite a shock, and I don't think anyone who's ever known Horton has quite gotten over it yet. So I don't normally do this sort of thing, but I decided to make my own tiny tribute to one giant of a mini Schnauzer ~ one of a deluge that flooded his master's inboxes once word got around. Like the stories I'd heard about him before I had the privilege of making his acquaintance one year ago, my humble little canvas doesn't do him justice. But it was made with lots of love, longing and a keen awareness that no other Schnauzer or beagle or whatever can ever take his place.