Roberto Berondo: Colorful Stroke of Life
Known for his gentle spirit, casually wears a flat hat, his long grey hair swathing his shoulders, walks with a cane, typically thin guy with round eyeglasses, Bert Berondo has a colourful life to tell all art aficionados.
Stylish and good looking, he was able to come out of the comfort zone in presenting his piece on a canvas. He has accomplished 10 Solo Art Exhibits in separate venues, (the 10th Solo Exhibit is on-going at Megaworld Iloilo), joined 48th Art Shows with the Group of Artists in Central Visayas and Palawan.
He brushes elbows with Palawan’s big time artists such as Dinggot Prieto, curator and visual artist who owns the famous Kamarikutan art Gallery in Palawan, and Mario Lubrico, another successful visual artist of the province.
Bert is a friend to Ems Lucasan, a distinguished Filipino musician who makes good compositions integrating bamboo musical instruments: Flute, Marimba, Kubing, Jembee percussion, rain stick and Bungkaka.
Bert signs his art piece with bold letters BERT BERONDO. Roberto G. Berondo was born on August 10, 1955 in the island of Negros Occidental and currently lives in Villa Angela Phase 2, Home Site, Barangay Vista Alegre, Bacolod City, province of Negros Occidental. Bert had a big family of 12 to feed. Interestingly some of his sons are now into visual arts too. Paolo focuses on bracelets, necklaces and masks while Eric and Carlos turn their attention to realistic painting.
During the 80’s the youthful Roberto went to Manila and landed on a job as a Ceramic designer or ceramic artist.
For those who have collections of kitchen wares made of ceramic plates from the 80’s they would certainly know what Bert is talking about. Some of these ceramic plates have intricate designs and they were carefully hand-drawn images of nature; flowers, fish and vegetables and the like.
In 1986, when EDSA Revolution took place, he was one of the workers who suffered isolation and was then displaced. He went to the mountains in Bicol region and there he met his future wife, a Bicolana. Assured of the affection he found from his better half, Bert decided to return to Bacolod to settle down and to dedicate his life to painting. In 1991, Bert Berondo joined the AAB (Art Association of Bacolod). From then on he became resilient. He did not stop doing art.
Artists are known for their works. Great Masters like Fernando Amorsolo who portrays the rural and still life of the Pre-War Philippines. Ben Cabrera (famously known as Bencab), when I had the chance to interview him in 1997, admitted, he’s into figurative art. Bencab owns a Museum in Baguio City now.
Mauro “Malang” Santos inspires his collectors with his theme on family with almost an endomorphic, ‘vividly colored’ feature yet still beautiful to behold because of his blending technique. Bert Berondo’s stroke is distinct.
There is an excessive presence of thin straight lines. Yet it produces a clear imagery of the subject being presented, serene but exotic. There is no evidence of overlapping and thick pigments. Berondo is known for his broken neck portrait and amazing movement of his brush, Bert’s theme reflects the core of being a native Filipino.
His concept stands out in terms of clean lucid colors, his message talks on a canvas, looks abstract to some but he achieves to portray Filipino culture aesthetically. It can be discerned first of all in his choice of themes.
He definitely uses Hiligaynon (Ilonggo) his dialect, to be deeply and essentially rooted to his being. Most of his Solo Exhibits are entitled Tumandok. Tumandok is a Hiligaynon term for native. As an artist he sometimes tied up into the subject like poverty, social justice and he frequently meditates on everyday struggle that he gets in contact with.
Bert draws the Aetas and is good at that. He paints still life, happy and simple existence of vendors, the deplorable housing problem of the poor and many other interesting subjects like the artists themselves. His edge in drawing the sacadas of Negros, the Anawim in the haciendas, and the sugarcane industry on its dark side is one of his favourite interpretations.
His medium is acrylic on canvas. At other times he only uses black ink on an acid free paper. Artists are made to believe that art is a vehicle for change.
Real artists are not pleased by the idea to just fill in an empty wall but being able to come to think deeply carrying out a compelling message. What does his work say about social change? How does it differentiate lies from truth?
It has always been a bit of a challenge for an artist to convey a vibrant message on a canvas. Artists are constantly asking for instance, how to put colors on poverty making life beaming with hope. Bert admitted though that he once got hooked into some vices and that was regrettable according to him. Outgrowing it is like choosing the right hue at hand, delicately combining tea