No­table busi­ness­men making waves in their re­spec­tive spheres

Cebu Living - - Front Page -

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

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