Artist-printmaker Virgilio “Pandy Aviado” likens his journey to Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s story about the search for the rare butterfly.
“A collector went around the world looking for this rare butterfly, but never found it. One day, he suddenly spotted the rare butterfly in his garden.
“Just like the collector, I traveled across the globe looking for inspiration until I found it in our heritage architecture,” he said.
A member of the Heritage Conservation Society, he has been visiting, drawing and printing ancestral homes and endangered Art Deco buildings.
His works are on view at “Hearth: Heritage and Art at the Pablo Antonio Home,” the first-ever group exhibit at the residence of Pablo Antonio, National Artist for Architecture, in Pasay City. The exhibit features Aviado’s black-and-white architectural renditions alongside the artworks of Antonio’s great-grandchildren Hannah and Joshua Barrera and their friend Christian Nigel Villaceran.
Using charcoal pencil, craypas, monoprint and his “secret techniques,” Aviado paid homage to several of Antonio’s artworks, such as the streamlined Art Deco buildings of Far Eastern University, Ideal Theater and Life Theater (now the Teofilo Villonco Building). He has also done a portrait in charcoal of the late architect.
The works bear old stamps as homage to artist Saul Steinberg of the New Yorker magazine. Aviado was inspired by Steinberg’s graphic accuracy of architecture, punched with numbers, letters or bogus stamps to lend character.
On his works, Aviado remarked, “My aim was to create an air of nostalgia and history. The drawings speak about La Belle Epoch in Manila. These buildings have transcended time. I wanted to bring what was lost so that young people realize that many of these are endangered.”
Meanwhile, the younger generation at the exhibit has brought in color, fluid forms and sculpture.
The Barrera siblings grew up in an atmosphere of creativity and style—what with relatives in fashion, architecture, interior design and sculpture. Their mother Vicky Veloso is into fashion, runs a culinary school and writes children’s book. Their grandmother Malu Antonio-Veloso is a couturiere. The Barreras are self-taught artists who naturally gravitated toward visual arts.
“Whenever we ate in restaurants, our parents would bring art materials to keep us entertained,” said Hannah, a senior at De La Salle high school on Taft Avenue. At 16, she prefers to establish her own style rather than work under mentors and emulate them. Despite formal training, the portraits are close to representational.
For the exhibit, she expresses her fascination with the actresses of Old Hollywood, such as a pen-and-ink sketch of Marilyn Monroe, a watercolor monochrome rendering of Marilyn Monroe and a tanned version of Elizabeth Taylor using old cosmetics.
Unlike Hannah’s realistic portraits of models and actresses, her older brother, Joshua, goes into radical interpretations of nature, such as trees, insects, flowers and the recurring themes of the sun and waves. The 18-year-old senior high-school student at Meridian favors saturated hues in limited color palettes, not only to explore the expressive possibilities of color but also to emphasize unusual shapes and little details.
Joshua’s schoolmate, Villaceran, shows his ingenuity with sculptures of animal and imaginary figures using brass-plated round-head fasteners.
The exhibit aims to raise funds for the upkeep of the Antonio residence. Built in 1948, this tropical architecture home has a marker by National Historical Commission of the Philippines.
Antonio’s daughter Malu has been maintaining the place by transforming it into a private dining experience. To cope with the rising costs of preserving the house, she and her daughters Vicky and Letlet have been planning other income-generating activities. The art exhibit, together with sale of bijou by Malu and Letlet, is just the start. —CONTRIBUTED
“Hearth: Heritage and Art at the Pablo Antonio Home” is on view at 2650 Zamora Street, Pasay City. Call 09175393940 or 09187022125.