Quantcast
Latest Stories

Brothers in art

By

COW AGAINST old church ruins in Ilocos Norte. HAN VAN HAGEN

Walking to the grocery at the Ayala Center, photographer Alex Van Hagen points to the stripes and markings on the asphalt and the chipped paint on the parking-lot wall. Although they seem mundane to the average person, Alex finds visual interest that they can become potential abstract designs in a photograph.

For three decades, Alex has been synonymous with society chronicling and, lately, corporate events. Among his subjects were a striking Maricris Zobel in Louie Ysmael’s Euphoria; Mayenne Carmona and Becky Garcia in  Bobong Velez’s Faces; and Ado Escudero dressed as King Kamehameha in his theme parties in Villa Escudero in the ’80s.

At 64, Alex is at a stage where he finds more fulfillment in fine-art photography. In the past five years, he has sold over 180 prints and has already established avid collectors.

CARABAO on a pond. HAN VAN HAGEN

Alex has a keen photographic eye and clarity of viewpoint. With his compositional instincts, he creates a refreshing view of what could have been clichés. He could do a contemplative image of a flower against its shaded silhouette; the crack along a piece of glass; the ragged finish of painted walls; the rough tree bark; and the melancholy landscapes.

Skeletal trees line the road in Zuidwolde, a village in the Dutch province of Drenthe; they underscore the brooding winter. Sunflowers tilt toward the sun in Toulouse to express the joy of spring. Steps of a New York museum cast their shadows forming a pensive study of geometry.

HAN AND Alex Van Hagen

Alex’s book series has been a sellout. These are book leaves that have been folded and photographed at unusual angles.

“I fold every page of the book and open them to look like a fan. I photographed it from the front and the back,” he says.

Since his exhibit last year, Alex has added some subjects such as still-life studies inspired by Dutch painters; raindrops on the window; and walls and doors with shadowy images. “If you look at the old walls, you will see interesting compositions of color and texture. I focus on one part where the picture looks like a painting.”

Ilocos scenery

BALANCE of light and shadow. ALEX VAN HAGEN

He’s only half of the story. Alex and his older brother Han will be mounting their “Brothers in Art” exhibit on Aug. 17 at Nova Gallery, upon the invitation of businessman Charlie Cojuangco.

The corporate sponsors, undoubtedly, are people whom he covered in his society chronicling—Belo Medical Group, Fila and Moët & Chandon.

Han is one of the five etchers in The Netherlands. When he was in his teens, his teacher discovered his prodigious talent in drawing.

Trained at Royal Academy for Arts and Design in The Hague, he focused on etching, a printmaking process which uses metal sheets and acid to incise the image onto the copper or zinc plate. It is engraving by corrosion of metal. The etcher seeks to represent a close reproduction of the image, rendered in black-and-white.

worm’s eye view of a towering tree. ALEX VAN HAGEN

For over 40 years, he has done books and his works have been exhibited at the prestigious Rijks, Den Haag and Geemente Museums.

“Etching is the finest way of drawing. To me, there’s no other way to draw something exactly as it is. It allows you to make lines finer than a hairline. Alex can produce a masterpiece in a split second. It would take me at least a month to make one,” he says.

Han’s work reveals his virtuosity in the uninhibited sweep of lines, capturing the spirit of an Ilocos scenery, the Mass and lines of an old church, or the laid-back nature of the carabao, creating the effects with the balance of light and shadow. The fineness and solidity of these contrasts  show his deft and precise hand.

The viewer marvels at the refined nuanced tones which lend character to his landscapes or animal subjects. It’s very clear that there is an intimate connection between the artist’s mind and his hand.

Turning point

SEASCAPE. ALEX VAN HAGEN

At the exhibit, some works by Alex and Han will be placed side by side for people to compare the photographic realism of Han’s art. For instance, Alex’s bucolic black-and-white photo of a cow is juxtaposed with Han’s detailed illustration of a carabao.

Han says that bonding with his younger brother has become a major turning point in his life.

“We used to see each other, but there were other people around that we could not have a real talk,” Han recalls.

The brothers have adopted children from the Real Life Foundation, whom they have sent to school.

In 2007, Han visited the Philippines to hold an exhibit of his works. He was surprised when Alex had shown him his experiments in still life, landscapes, and play of textures.

“When Alex was young, I didn’t know he had that talent. I didn’t know that he was a professional photographer in the Philippines. I liked his photos of the tree trunks. I don’t like the ones where there are society people on it,” he says, referring to the people who mill in front of Alex’s camera.

Consequently, they travel together for inspiration. The Van Hagens have visited Paoay and Vigan where Han was taken by the scenery.

“Nature is the boss. If there are buildings, they would be less important in the image. I don’t like doing people. They are always around me and they talk too much. When you are engrossed in your drawing, you fall into silence,” he says.

One of his most powerful images is a portrait of a bull wherein the eyeball is painstakingly represented.

On his brother’s works, Han comments: “I like his way of looking and feeling toward his subjects. They’ve touched me.”

Alex rejoins: “Thanks to Han, I’ve gotten more serious with my work. He encouraged me. We’ve gotten closer.”


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: Alex Van Hagen , Art , Brothers in Art , Lifestyle , People , Photography



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
Advertisement
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  3. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  4. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  5. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  6. Sweet party for Andi Manzano
  7. Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  8. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  9. Entering the monkhood a rite of passage
  10. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  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

News

  • Camilla’s brother dies in US after head injury
  • Luisita farmers storm DAR compound
  • Trillanes, Ejercito confident they are not in Napoles’ list
  • Easterlies to prevail in Luzon, Visayas
  • Lacson eyes P106-B ‘Yolanda’ rehab masterplan
  • Sports

  • Murray breaks down in tears at Scottish ceremony
  • Mixers trim Aces; Painters repulse Bolts
  • Donaire junks Garcia as coach, taps father
  • ’Bye Ginebra: No heavy heart this time
  • UAAP board tackles new rules
  • Lifestyle

  • 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
  • The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  • Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  • Entertainment

  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Return of ‘Ibong Adarna’
  • Practical Phytos plans his future
  • In love … with acting
  • Business

  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Cost-recovery provisions for affected gencos urged
  • This time, BIR goes after florists
  • Technology

  • 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
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Opinion

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

  • Filipinos in Middle East urged to get clearance before returning
  • PH seeks ‘clearer assurance’ from US
  • China and rivals sign naval pact to ease maritime tensions
  • What Went Before: Manila bus hostage crisis
  • Obama arrives in Tokyo, first stop of 4-nation tour
    Marketplace