Where cosmetic surgery is an art form | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

A Institute's art pieces
“RESTING Beauty” by Nica Acalintado, echoes the horizontal position of the bed in the treatment room. PHOTOS BY NELSON MATAWARAN
A Institute's art pieces
“RESTING Beauty” by Nica Acalintado, echoes the horizontal position of the bed in the treatment room. PHOTOS BY NELSON MATAWARAN

The painting of a slender, naked model, whose only covering is a luxury branded scarf on her face, hovers over the “Boob Station,” a tray filled with natural saline and silicone breast implants. Dr. Z Teo, CEO of the Aivee Group of Companies and a Singapore-based plastic surgeon, holds up an implant against the model’s small but perky breasts.

“We do natural-shaped implants. People don’t like implants that look like watermelons. She’s here to explain what these natural implants do,” he explains, referring to the image.

The painting is a work by San Francisco-based artist Anna Halldin-Maule, whose husband Tom photographs the models. Anna then makes a hyper-realistic painting from her husband’s most striking image.

Maule’s painting became the inspiration for A Institute, the newest medical facility run by Dr. Z and his wife, celebrity dermatologist and medical director Aivee Aguilar-Teo. While the Aivee Clinics focus on skin, the A Institute at Burgos Park Building covers aesthetic surgery, sports medicine, hair transplant, a snoring lab and wellness. Its sleek interior design by Singaporean firm Avit is ideal for displaying contemporary art.

Teo believes that art makes a powerful visual statement about A Institute’s approach to aesthetic medicine and general health. They are not merely embellishments for antiseptic walls. His collection of figurative art, albeit surreal, suggests a sense of fantasy, an escape from the “inconvenience” of procedures.

Research indicates that the content of artworks has an effect on the brain’s reaction to pain and pressure.

A Institute's art pieces
AN AVID collector of modern art, Dr. Z Teo favors Ronald Caringal’s detail of hands, the surgeon’s most vital tools.
A Institute's art pieces
JOSE John Santos’ surrealistic painting of a bald man holding luggage on a string is ideal for the room for hair restoration.

No bland paddy field

He favors contemporary art, particularly works by Filipinos, that spark conversations. “You won’t see me hanging up a bland paddy field,” says Teo.

Among his favorite galleries are Provenance, J Studio and Leon Gallery for their unique crop of Filipino artists who are daring and witty.

“Art has to speak to me. Otherwise it won’t mean anything. I don’t go for the name. Art has to be put in its context. What will it say in that area?” he says.

For the A Institute’s opening, Metrobank winner Bryan Teves’ painting of a beauty drowning under hibiscuses dominates the accent wall at the lobby.

“This is a favorite selfie place,” says Teo. “I’m inviting galleries to put their artists here on the feature wall. It’s a showcase for them. We’ll keep changing to keep the look fresh.”

In a treatment room, a painting of a girl, lying on the field and oblivious to the environment, is placed on top of a bed, as if to mimic the patient’s position.

“When people come here, they feel they are in a different world. This place is not something that you’d normally find in the Philippines,” says Teo.

Approaching the surgery zone, a bust of a half-naked woman with a pile of scraps on her head by a Korean artist looks hesitantly toward the Robotics room. It humorously echoes the patient’s feeling when one is about to undergo an invasive procedure. However, behind the bust is the abstraction of bold stripes by Y.M. Yu whose vibrant colors exude a happy energy.

A Institute's art pieces
BUST of a woman with a woven sculpture on her head looks toward the surgery area. Y.M. Yu’s colorful abstraction enlivens the walls.

In the Robotics room, Jose John Santos III’s painting of a bald man with a halo holding a suitcase on a string is a pun on the hair-challenged and the wonders of technology.

Maule’s nude painting in the consultation room sets the atmosphere for talks on liposuction and breast augmentation.

“The model may be naked but it’s not vulgar,” says Teo.

Among the CEO-surgeon’s favorite works are close-ups of hands by Ronald Caringal.

“I like hands. They denote precision, control. This is what patients expect from our team of surgeons,” says Teo.

“I put art in this institute because it’s what we do. My surgeons are artists when they do a face or nose, sculpt a body. Like artists, they appreciate symmetry, proportions. I feel art and our work—cosmetic and plastic surgery—are cousins. We are all kindred spirits. I believe that art will inspire my surgeons in the environment, and this will translate to their work.”

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