FIELD OF COMMAND
Notable businessmen making waves in their respective spheres
Garrison Rousseau talks about his craft and obsession in the company of saints By PRISTINE L. DE LEON Images by TAMMY DAVID We are in a room full of relics. Either as a statement of religiosity or a visual gag to induce fear, angels, saints, and one headless Barabas stare down at visitors, seemingly willing their devotion regardless of whichever god they pray to. Wooden hands on a table reach up towards a deity somewhere, a 14-foot tall mirror framed by driftwood multiplying the image twofold.
Garrison Rousseu lords over this assembly of santos. His obsession with collecting is almost akin to religion. “I grew up in a very Catholic household [in Hong Kong]. I had a lot of that around,” he shares. Yet none struck his fascination as much as the santos here, which look more human than holy, more like creatures caught in frozen time, blinking just every now and then.
“I wasn’t trying to get the ones with [ivory] angelic faces, the devotional Catholic art,” Rousseu says. “I was really [going for] Baroque or folk art, something where the face is more human.” Since his arrival, he has culled pieces for his collection mostly from dealer Floy Quintos. Once, in Gallery Deus, Rousseau recalls four Frenchmen intending to buy native antiques and sell them in Paris for a higher rate. “I was so determined to buy them because I was so irritated [with the French]. That’s how I actually started. If I buy them, at least they stay here in the Philippines.”
While collecting is an obsession, making furniture is Rousseau’s art. With all his craftsmen in the workshop, he plays god in the business of creation. “I was giving things away as wedding gifts,” he shares of his first works. “I wasn’t trying to sell them, but people started calling me, asking if they could buy. All of a sudden, I was in business.”
Departing from antiques, Rousseau now