Ebarle’s ‘Hibla 7’: Intricate indigenous weaving motifs become intricate abstract artBy John Ernest José
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The deconstruction of ethnic Filipino motifs has been the signature style of abstract painter Jane Arrieta Ebarle. But in her seventh solo exhibit, “Hibla 7,” she departs from her free-flowing lines and simple brushstrokes.
Discussing her new exhibit, which opens Sept. 7, 6:30 p.m., at Blue + Gray Gallery in Serendra, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig, Ebarle says her paintings have become more structurally stubborn and rigid.
Also, her works are more laborious and she has to put in more hours to finish each piece.
“Abstract art sustains my freedom to create,” she says. “It is rhythmically organic as it is boundless. It percolates in my deepest thoughts.”
Ebarle’s realization that she leans toward abstraction was not sudden. She has explored still life, realism, even pottery, only to discover she wasn’t really developing as an artist.
She says that in her younger years her career in marketing would pull her away from her passion—painting.
Trying to strike a balance between the two disciplines was difficult; she referred to those years as “a lackadaisical period of nothingness.”
“I never had the real chance to sharpen any talent I had, if ever I had one,” she says. “My slow-motion way of making things happen only magnified the situation, and so it would take me months before I could make a 2 ft x 3 ft figurative painting or a still life.”
It was only through her first solo exhibit, “Filipino Ethnicity,” that she was able to carve her own artistic idiom.
Her works from her exhibit were drawn from old and new influences.
“[The works were] modern and pulsated with colors, yet tamed by tradition.”
“I had a fascination for anything ethnic,” she explains. “Aztec. Mexican. African; my attractions to these designs was like a gentle prodding from the past. One time I encountered a book about Filipino ethnic designs and I became drawn to the subject.”
Eschewing influences from other artists, Ebarle avoided looking at other artists’ works to maintain the uniqueness of her works; she didn’t want to be labeled a copycat.
“My works may not be the best thing, but I couldn’t be happier thinking that every idea I had [I was able] to put into reality,” she says.
Ebarle would do studies before painting. She would make sketches and studies of the colors to be used.
But upon finishing the first layer of her work, she would find herself deviating from the original plan.
Nowadays, she says she does her works in an “impromptu” style. She has junked doing advanced studies.
“There was a time I planned to make a painting in black and white, but I ended up doing something colorful,” she recalls.
Her work starts with a blank canvas—she imagines the patterns and colors that could fill it. She says she must have her paints and palette within easy reach as she changes her mind often about colors.
She creates spontaneously, Ebarle explains. She gazes casually at everyday stuff, such as curtains, floors and car lights, and she gets a visual idea of her next work.
“I love textures,” says Ebarle. “They excite me because when I look at them, I see a finished painting.”
Ebarle is now working on her next series, “Babaeng Hibla,” which reflects the stories and emotions of a woman through the patterns and textures of her garments.
“The woman is very sensual yet tradition-bound,” she says. “She is mystical yet aching to be discovered. It is about the power that emanates from her weakness.”
Ebarle is a Fine Arts alumna of University of Santo Tomas and the marketing director of Faber-Castell.