Jerico De Leon is a member of Apo’s Family, a group of cross bearers who do “penance for the sins of mankind and to stop calamities such as typhoons, floods, volcanic eruptions and wars.” And his faith extends to his profession as an artist. Tales of faith, sacrifice and wonder centering on dramatic figures — cross makers, woodcarvers, flower vendors and children — are painstakingly and lovingly painted by the artist. The man professes his faith every time he dabs paint onto the canvas. It has been said that De Leon uses the walls of a gallery as his pulpit with deft renderings of the Gospels, bannering the Good News.
The man embarks on this third solo exhibition titled “Apo,” which is on view until Nov. 2 at the ARTablado space in Robinsons Antipolo.
His artistic path may be thorny but it is filled with life-changing epiphanies. His artistic awakening occurred during his college years when he encountered the works of a renowned Filipino painter, Bitoy Blanco, who hailed from Angono, Rizal. Blanco’s art spoke to Jerico, as it vividly captured the essence of Filipino life in the provinces. Through Blanco’s work, Jerico discovered the power of art to bring the vibrancy of the Philippine countryside to life, and this revelation would later influence his own artistic endeavors.
De Leon’s latest exhibit is unlike any of his previous shows, as it delves deep into the fusion of art and spirituality. One of the most striking features of “Apo” is the use of old pages from the Bible as part of the canvas. This choice is deeply rooted in Jerico’s own faith and his belief in the importance of spiritual reflection in today’s chaotic world. By incorporating Bible pages into his artwork, Jerico aims to encourage people to engage with the teachings and wisdom contained within these sacred texts, particularly those who may not typically open a Bible.
He explains, “Bakit hindi na lang ang Bible ang ilagay ko (sa painting) para mabasa ito ng mga tao. Ito ay magsisilbing pamamaraan para mabasa nila ang mabuting balita ng Salita ng Diyos. Gusto ko sa obra na ginagawa ko ay may kabuluhan — malinaw na ang mga nasusulat sa Bible ay nagaganap na.”
The choice to hold his third solo show at ARTablado in Robinsons Antipolo is a reflection of Jerico’s appreciation for an art space that welcomes artists from all walks of life. He values the inclusivity of ARTablado, where artists are given the opportunity to showcase their work and connect with a diverse audience. By exhibiting his artwork at this venue, De Leon hopes to reach a wider audience, sharing his unique perspective and artistic creations with the world.
“Sa ARTablado kasi, lahat ay welcome,” says Jerico.
The people behind Robinsons Land Corporation (RLC) believe in the ingenuity and artistry of Filipinos. RLC has allocated spaces at Robinsons malls in Antipolo and Ortigas to hold exhibitions for art practitioners who deserve to showcase their hard work, grit and perseverance. ARTablado’s impact has been instantaneous for members of the art community who have been pining for a platform where every artist — young or old, established or up-and-coming. A much welcome development in the local art scene.
“Lahat ay binibigyan ng ARTablado ng pagkakataon na magpakita ng mga gawa nila,” says the artist.
And with this platform, a unique artist such as Jerico de Leon is able to share the many mysteries of his faith through his paintings that allow viewers to pause, reflect and find meaning in a chaotic, conflicted world.