If there’s any heritage his late grandmother Isabel Manalo Liwanes left Vincent Diñoso, it’s her influence to express himself through words and sketches. Growing up, his lola would fold sheets of oslo paper and make her own greeting cards to give to family come Valentine’s Day or Christmas.
“Then, when we had a school assignment that involved drawing, she did it for us,” recalls Diñoso. “She used mostly ballpoint pen. She was a teacher. She liked writing letters.”
This was his introduction to art. And his grandmother’s talent and hobby has definitely rubbed off on him as he now finds himself coming up with his own pen drawings.
He started drawing in sixth grade. His favorite subject then was Japanese anime. Witnessing his flair, his high school art club advisor Arnold Dominic Ty invited him to join the organization and hone his talent through workshops. He also introduced Diñoso to Fernando Sena, considered the father of the Philippine art workshop, who eventually became Diñoso’s mentor.
It had always been Diñoso’s intention to get into art full time, but as his family’s breadwinner (along with sister Nikki), he took the practical route and opened his own fitness gym to help in the daily expenses. He thought art was something he could devote time to later on.
But the pandemic forced the closure of his business. With no source of income, Diñoso, who often posts his works on social media, started replying to inquiries and accepting commissions. Among those who had seen his art was Dr. Joven Cuanang, founder of Pinto Art Museum.
He was introduced to the doctor by a common friend, and not long after, got invited to do a group exhibit, followed by his own solo show in November 2020. Titled “Skinworks,” it featured 21 pieces composed mostly of profiles and nudes in graphite and pen drawings.
Like his grandmother, Diñoso found his favorite subject in human figures. “Since I worked in the fitness industry, I am used to observing people and how they move and how they form their muscles. So my work has relevance to skin control and body movement,” he says.
Now he’s exploring other types of materials, such as acrylic and gauze. “It takes a long time to do pen drawings and it’s hard on the hands.” Among his favorite works are “Waiting Game” and the “Transcendence,” both of which take inspiration from the pandemic and show his capability in the use of other art instruments.
“There’s one subject surrounded by silhouettes and shadows that symbolizes death and people fading. They are blurred images because you don’t personally see people during the pandemic. At the same time, there’s emergence, too. Life and death,” he says.
COVID might have compelled him to shut down his business, but it also forced him to focus on his artistic talent, something he had delayed. And now that he finally has his foot in the door, he plans on continuing the legacy of his Lola Isabel.