by THERIZ LIZEL R. SILVANO
PERHAPS the greatest art ever created are women. Their complexity, individuality, and even ability to have contrasting personalities are anything but ordinary. Knowing a woman is never linear but rather a pattern of bends and turns — analogous to the curves of their bodies and the upward and downward spirals of their emotions.
Women are like great works of art. After a long gaze, one can catch a glimpse of their spirit and character. When it comes to arts and culture, women are at the forefront of the past and today’s artistry and tradition. Most portraits display women at the center, whether it is the features of their bodies or their pastime activities.
Regardless of the subject matter, one can always see the feminine qualities of the artwork. In addition, almost all the renowned art pieces display life and nature — two truly effeminate characteristics. This reason alone gives us the confidence to say that women are art themselves.
Sadly, art history tends to focus on the works of men such as Vincent Van Gogh, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo. In the Philippines, there is Fernando Amorsolo, Juan Luna, and Félix Resurrección Hidalgo, who created artworks depicting the Spanish Era. While it is beyond question that these men truly raised the standards of art, it prompts us to ask where the women are in the art scene, when they have also shaped the world’s artistry.
In celebrating both the National Women’s Month and the National Arts Month last February, The Flame lists five Filipina artists who are barely recognized for their works but their creations are exhibited in international museums and are available for auction.
These Filipinas’ take on using vibrant colors not only give life to their subjects but also present dynamic and warm hues that effectively convey their artworks’ messages.
1. Celeste Lecaroz (born 1971)
Scattered colors across a blank canvas may appear smudged and chaotic but in Celeste’s works, they portray the subjects in detail. Celeste’s contrasting use of delicate and strong strokes of paint is visible when viewers take a long gaze at her art. The power of color and strokes thereby make her subjects easily recognizable.
But not all her works are dominated by her use of fierce paints. Some of them are made in a circumspect manner. Whether her strokes are fine or wild, her works remain to capture an entire scene and her subjects are highlighted through her playful use of colors and shades.
2. Pacita Abad (born 1946)
Pacita’s social realism movement and constant travels are the fuel for her impressive masterpieces. Her use of clusters of strong colors is the seed of her works’ diverting abstracts and patterns. Most of her works are painted on large canvases, which will easily catch viewers’ attention.
Pacita was born on the small island of Batanes. She has traveled, lived, and visited countless countries in the world. Her works are now in the collections of international museums such as Korea National Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Singapore Art Museum, National Museum of the Philippines.
3. Norma Belleza (born 1939)
Norma Belleza, a graduate of Fine Arts at the University of Santo Tomas, is a Filipina artist who transformed her art style from painting dark and solemn shades and subjects to incorporating radiant and optimistic features in her artworks. She is known for her familial and natural themes that highlight the livelihood and activities of mothers in both urbanized cities and provincial areas in the Philippines.
In her works, Norma successfully captures the realities of women who harvest crops and sell them to earn income for the family all while raising their children.
4. Paulina Constancia (born 1970)
Paulina underlines the joys of living a simple life with shared love and unity in her artworks. Although her art is composed of large groups of subjects, playful tales, and striking yet overwhelming subjects, it still manages to deliver a simple message to viewers: love, comfort, and harmony.
Paulina has her works on display in several countries including Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Greece, Poland, Slovenia, The Netherlands, Mexico, the US, and Canada.
5. Imelda Cajipe-Endaya (born 1949)
The assemblage of fragments and patterns of objects define the main themes of Imelda’s works, which are feminism, race, and globalization. Her work Lupa Sa Aming Altar and Bangungot ng Mabuting Pastol also speak about religion and faith.
Viewers may find Imelda’s works philosophical and abstruse, but it also interprets our sincere realities in a complex way. Imelda’s use of mixed mediums such as handmade paper and fabrics also makes her subjects come alive.
A daydreamer may get lost in these psychedelic works. With every stroke, pattern, subject, and color, these pieces give viewers a myriad of artistic elements and sincere emotions. Moreover, the vibrance in these works is intense and enthusiastic, just like women.
Art and women are intertwined, for both can offer infinite meanings, symbols, qualities, characteristics, and sentiments. The artists in this list are just some of the many accomplished and talented art mavens.
As the art scene continues to thrive even in the virtual art world, women also still flourish and succeed in whatever path they pursue. F