The Philippine Star
Fairy tales are stories of enchantment. In their simplicity, profound lessons are learned. They are tales that educate the young minds about the concept of good and bad, night and day, joy and suffering. They liberate the emotions of children with brilliant and moving revelations that are discovered page after page. And long after the book is devoured by the hungry mind of the child, the characters come alive still — in his dreams, even when he is grown up.
The Sining Makiling Gallery of UP Los Baños is brimming with childlike overtones yet with reflective and philosophical lessons gleaned from the great Philippine fairy tales and folk tales. A visual arts exhibit of 33 artworks by Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan (INK) fills the gallery as
RE_TALE: Philippine Tales Retold lords it over until March 3. INK is an association of artists committed to the creation and promotion of illustrations for children.
The exhibit is a visual spectacle. Diwatas and duwendes coax each other as they are painted on the pristine walls of the gallery. (“For the first time, we allowed artist exhibitors to draw or scribble on the gallery walls as part of their show’s habitus,” says UPLB Prof. Jerry Yapo, who is also in charge of the gallery, being the director of the university’s Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts.)
One of the scene stealers at the gallery is the mixed media on wood artwork of Luis Chua titled Pinang, which chronicles the tale surrounding the legend of the pineapple. The artwork is a complete revisit to the classic story of a girl who refused to use her two eyes to look around the house to find an object that her mother asked her to look for. So, according to the legend, a mysterious event ensued when she was turned into a fruit that had many eyes. Chua, with the heart of a child and the mind of an adult, reinterpreted Pinang via a Gorgon-like girl with eyes all over her body.
Biag ni Lam-ang, the greatest Ilocano epic ever told, is retold by Jill Arwen Posadas in a diorama-like sequencing of events in Lam-ang, an artwork in watercolor on paper. The artwork is at once celebratory and wistful as the character of Lam-ang is of great fairy-tale proportion replete with action, comedy and tragedy. In Posadas’ work, the clarity of the life of the Ilocano superhero is achieved: from the time Lam-ang began to speak when he was born (even choosing his own name) to the time he went to war to look for his father at the age of nine months to the moment he was eaten alive by a fish to his happy ending with the love of his life.
The vivid re-imagining of the Filipino children’s stories by the members of Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan highlights a tradition that is solely and uniquely Pinoy. It is evident in Si Makahiya Nasa Cactus Garden and Pagtatanghal ng
Itim na Uwak by Da Sig, Sirena by Rev Cruz, Digmaang Dambuhala by Jap Mikel, Mamumundok at ang Mahoma by Arli Pagaduan, Ang Buwan at ang Bakunawa by Jeska Barayuga among other talented artists. The Sining Makiling Gallery and INK via RE_TALE: Philippine Tales Retold redefine and rediscover the meaning and importance of Filipino fairy tales. The artworks on exhibit are charming and enriching in their attempt to bring to the fore the many beautiful and thought-provoking Pinoy fairy tales. Like the children’s books that capture the attention of a child, each of the paintings on exhibit arouses the curiosity of those who find their way to the gallery.
RE_TALE is an excursion to a land not so far away, where dreams are made, broken, and fixed again with the use of magic and enchantment.
(Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan will hold art workshops on drawing, paper sculpture, coffee and watercolor painting on March 3 at the Sining Makiling Gallery, DL Umali Hall basement, UP Los Baños. E-mail email@example.com for more information.) (E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m also on Instagram @bumtenorio. Have a blessed Sunday!)