Latest Stories

Lydia Velasco paints ‘Paradiso’ as contrapunto to ‘Inferno’


“Women of Paradise”

Manila raised a furor recently over Dan Brown’s best-selling novel “Inferno.” The novel follows the adventures of fictional art historian Robert Langdon.

One of Brown’s main characters, the prodigy Dr. Sienna Brooks, volunteers for a humanitarian feeding mission to the Philippines, expecting a country of “geological beauty, dazzling seabed and vibrant plains.”

She is instead shocked to see extreme poverty, unabated crime, chaotic traffic and human trafficking involving even minors.

She notes the hopelessness of its people, leading her to describe her experience: “I’ve run through the Gates of Hell.”

In her forthcoming exhibit of paintings, Lydia Velasco comes up with her own interpretation of Paradise, almost as a contrapunto to Brown’s “Inferno.” Aptly titled “Paradiso,” the exhibit opens Sept. 5, 6 p.m., at Galerie Joaquin.

What Velasco does is to define her own vision of Paradise.  She presents over 20 new works of lush foliage, abundant waterfalls, colorful flowers. It is a world full of chirping birds, bursting with life and overflowing greenery.

“The Garden of Perennial Blooms”

Her concept is to present her vision of Paradiso in her gardenscapes and merge these with her strong female figures.

A modernist master, she navigates the levels of Paradiso in her own creative and artistic terms.

Most cultures ascribe Paradise to the afterlife, its various positive definitions helping provide an incentive for good behavior in the present.

The ancient Greeks had their Elysian Fields, a paradisiacal land of plenty where heroic and noble behavior was rewarded for eternity after one’s death.

In ancient Egyptian belief, Paradise was Auru, an ideal hunting and fishing ground where game was abundant and overflowing.

Garden imagery

In Judaic and Abrahamic beliefs, Paradise is believed to be the idyllic Garden of Eden, while in Muslim culture it is known as Jannah (garden), a place where man continues to enjoy spiritual and other pleasures not experienced on earth.

Interestingly, Paradise has had cross-cultural references in the history of man. It is often depicted with pastoral or garden-like imagery. It is a place of eternal peace, happiness and harmony.

Paradise has been the subject of artistic and literary interpretations.  The great Dante Aligheri, as you know, made the subject the third part of his “Divine Comedy.”

He described it as a heavenly place of nine celestial spheres with the virtuous and the good enjoying different rankings but all with perpetual joy.

In painting, Jan Breughel is noted for his iconic painting, simply titled “Paradise.”

“The Garden of Plenty”

Other masters such as Jacob de Backer, Peter Paul Reubens, Titian, Jan Breughel the Elder and Lucas Cranach have also painted the subject, their paintings basically interpreting the biblical “Garden of Eden.”

Heironymous Bosch tackled the subject matter magnificently in his triptych “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” done between 1490 and 1510.

Female form


Lydia Velasco was born in Navotas on Dec. 27, 1942. She was a Fine Arts major at the University of Santo Tomas and later worked in advertising, becoming one of the first woman art directors in the industry.

She became a member of the Saturday Group, becoming familiar with such art luminaries as National Artists Hernando R. Ocampo and Cesar Legaspi, both of whom she worked with in advertising.

And it was in advertising that Velasco discovered her passion—depicting the female form.

“I was one of those that the bosses would ask to do the story boards for TV commercials of products such as Palmolive and Camay,” she recalls. “Whatever it is, I would make sure their faces contained certain expression—coy, seductive, smiling, or winsomely trying to attract attention.”

It is almost ironic that Velasco is very committed to presenting her vision of Paradise, considering her personal struggles.

The eldest of nine siblings, she became the breadwinner of the family. She recently lost her husband to cancer.

It is precisely because of such a background that art critic Cid Reyes describes Velasco’s women as strong, resilient yet still overflowing with femininity.

“Paradiso” runs until Sept. 16. Galerie Joaquin is at 371 P. Guevara St. and Montessori Lane, Addition Hills, San Juan City.  Call tel. 02-9759532  or 02-7239418.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Art , Dan Brown , Inferno , Lifestyle , Lydia Velasco , Manila , paintings , Paradiso

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  3. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  4. No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  5. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  6. The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  7. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  8. Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  9. What has happened to Barrio Fiesta and Singing Cooks & Waiters?
  10. Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  4. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  5. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. This is not just a farm
  8. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  9. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  10. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer


  • Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors
  • [VIDEO] No assurances on Janet Lim-Napoles’ bid to become state witness
  • South Sudan president fires long-time army leader
  • 25 cops ordered relieved over links to drugs
  • Bloodied shirt, unwashed fork: JPII relics abound
  • Sports

  • Pacquiao can dodge tax issues
  • F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone rejects bribery charges
  • Big Chill freezes Cafe France to arrest skid
  • Pacquiao has to go through PBA Rookie draft
  • Guiao summoned by PBA for name-calling incident
  • Lifestyle

  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • Metro Pacific acquires stake in Victorias
  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Embassy advisory: Filipinos still need visas to enter US
  • No travel restriction to Mideast, DFA clarifies
  • PH-HK relations repaired, but families of victims still being courted