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. Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  2. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  3. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  4. This is not just a farm
  5. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  6. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  7. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  8. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  9. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  10. The truffled mac ‘n’ cheese, eggs benedict, chicken leg confit are excellent
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  4. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  5. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  6. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  7. France makes work beyond 6 p.m. illegal
  8. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  9. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  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. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?

News

  • 4.9 quake jolts Batanes on Maundy Thursday
  • Presidents, celebrities mourn writer Garcia Marquez
  • MH370 search to be most costly ever at $100 million — analysts
  • Iraqi guilty of beating wife to death in US
  • Avalanche sweeps Everest; 6 killed, 9 missing
  • Sports

  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Can Spurs get back at Heat? Can they survive West?
  • Hopkins, 49, seeks win for the ageless
  • LeBron still No. 1 with NBA’s most popular jersey
  • Pacquiao back in PH, heads home to wife, kids
  • Lifestyle

  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Entertainment

  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Whoopi Goldberg debuts as marijuana columnist
  • ‘X-men’ director accused of sex assault on teen boy
  • Cannes film festival launches race for 2014 Palme d’Or
  • Business

  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Oil prices mixed ahead of long Easter weekend
  • Technology

  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Last call for nominations to ’14 Presidential Awards
  • San Francisco business coalition slams proposed tax on sugary drinks
  • A ‘time-travel’ production of ‘Les Miserable’ at Stanford
  • Filipina Maryknoll sister honored for years of service
  • Malaysia quarantines 64 villagers over MERS virus
    Marketplace