Madonna Reimagined: My 4th Solo Painting Exhibition

Madonna Reimagined Exhibit Invite
Reviving this blog after being dormant for more than a year to invite you to my upcoming 4th solo exhibition, “Madonna Reimagined.” It opens this coming July 23, 6:30 PM, at Art Elements Asian Gallery in SM Aura Premier. The exhibit will run until August 09, that’s about 18 days to check out my latest collection. Join me at the cocktails on the 23rd, and please feel free to spread the word. For more updates and previews, visit my Facebook page.

madonna_reimagined_webposter(min)MADONNA REIMAGINED
The beauty of an unstoppable feminine force

 

A hauntingly beautiful figure, the austere representation of Mary has crossed the threshold from being a historical figure to an iconic heroine. It is perhaps her simplicity, vulnerability combined with the resounding strength and boldness of her actions that made her the immortal figure that she is today. The Madonna has long been a source of inspiration for many artists, having been resurrected countless of times within the delicate and deliberate hands of sculptors, poets, and painters alike.

The Madonna has long been portrayed demure, elegant, and maternal. The epitome of serenity, her smooth and youthful skin seemed untainted by the concerns, worries, and desires of the world. However, visual artist Katrina Pallon saw a different kind of beauty within her boundless eyes.

The Mater Dolorosa, also known as Our Lady of Sorrows, has long fascinated the painter who was mesmerized by the startling image of Mary with seven daggers unapologetically piercing her heart. Not long after, Katrina Pallon was enamored by an extraordinary figure. In a modest church in Parañaque, she was surprised to find the statue of a headless saint at the centerpiece of the altar. The headless saint stood proud and was known as Saint Denis, a 3rd century Parisian bishop who angered the local pagan priests having drawn so many conversions that they had him beheaded. However, the spirit of Saint Denis remained undeterred and he rose from the grave, picked up his own head, and walked six kilometers carrying his dismembered body part while preaching a sermon. A church was erected at the site of his execution to commemorate this plot twist of gothic proportions.

These images and subconscious fascinations led her to an assessment of the catalogued images of female saints and martyrs in her own memory. This eventually inspired her to create an image of the Madonna and the saints, not as seen as they are known to be but as a reflection of her own understanding of them.

Katrina Pallon used the language of the brush to retell a familiar and ageless story. Using lines and colors as her words, she shared her version of the life Madonna. Madonna as mother and Madonna brought to life in the virtues of all those who have perished in service to her name. Pallon has veered away from the traditional conservative portrayal, instead using the canvas to reflect upon her own appreciation of the figure, leading to the collection she has imparted to audiences today.

Behold the saints, martyrs, and the imitable Madonna in all her vibrant glory. Here, the Madonna is unafraid. Her emotions are oozing out of her body and she doesn’t hide behind conservative colors of beige and brown, opting instead to drown in a sea of wild flowers, in her hair, within her fingers, and spread upon her regal robes. Blood drips from her eyes, a scarlet trace of the suffering she endured as a pioneering woman of her time, unafraid to fight for her own beliefs. She is unafraid of her vulnerability, unafraid to weep, unafraid to divulge a pose of despair, knowing that these are not indications of weakness but assertions of her strength and values.

Surrounded by beautiful breathtaking details of nameless blossoms, her delicate face remains to be the epitome of feminine beauty. However, in the midst of the flora, her face has transformed into a strength shaped by suffering made beautiful by its triumph over it. Using meticulously drawn details in the clean lines of solid black ink, a captivating palette, and stunning aesthetics, Katrina Pallon has created a collection that serves as an ode to the beautiful, multi-faceted, and immortal strength of a woman.

The exhibit will be unveiled to the public on July 23 at Art Elements Asian Gallery, SM Aura. For more details, contact the gallery at (02) 519-9683 or email artelements@surfshop.net.ph. (Written by Hannah Jo Uy)

Project 52: Weeks 12 to 16

Frailty. March started off with me helping a good friend fulfill her new year’s resolution — to lose weight. So the theme of the first half of the month pretty much revolved around goading her into eating right and getting plenty of exercise. While my drawing has nothing to do with getting fit, it does depict a very thin and fragile woman. The idea stemmed from my numerous conversations with my friend regarding body weight perceptions as she went on a diet that required her to cut down on carbs and restricted her meat consumption to just chicken and fish — an incredibly difficult feat because we LOVE food. I guess I now have a whole new-found respect for people who strictly adhere to a certain diet and really commit to it. I originally named this “Anorexia” but decided to settle for “Frailty” instead, since the latter is more apt.

Week 12: Frailty

Week 12: Frailty

Moon Worship. I have always paid attention to the moon’s waxing and waning, and the particular full moon on the week of March 29 got me to draw this. I was driving home from grabbing a quick coffee when I noticed the huge moon tinged with a faint orange. While continuing to work on a painting that same night, I decided to watch “Practical Magic” for the umpteenth time, which happens to be my all-time favorite romcom. Sally Owen’s romaticizing the moon in her letter to her sister Gillian combined with the beautiful image of the moon I saw prompted me to come up with this.

“Sometimes I feel like there’s a hole inside of me, an emptiness that at times seems to burn. I think if you lifted my heart to your ear, you could probably hear the ocean. The moon tonight, there’s a circle around it. Sign of trouble not far behind. I have this dream of being whole. Of not going to sleep each night, wanting. But still sometimes, when the wind is warm or the crickets sing, I dream of a love that even time will lie down and be still for. I just want someone to love me. I want to be seen. I don’t know. Maybe I had my happiness. I don’t want to believe it but, there is no man, Gilly. Only that moon.”

The result: Three Wiccans under a full moon. Cue in Toploader’s “Dancing in the Moonlight.”

Week 13: Moon Worship

Week 13: Moon Worship

Wallflower. The week I drew this, I was craving for a Hainanese chicken fix at Wee Nam Kee. And this was inspired by a wallpaper in that said restaurant. Craving satisfied, weekly drawing assignment accomplished.

Week 14: Wallflower

Week 14: Wallflower

Leona and Castora. This was a requested drawing by my friend Emiliana Kampilan, the artist behind the web comic Dead Balagtas. If you haven’t heard of it, I urge you to check it out. It has been listed in Spot.ph’s 5 New Komiks Artists Worth Following with its retelling of events in Philippine history backed with insight and intelligent humor. Anyway, Emiliana asked me to draw her favorite heroine, Leona Florentino, in time for the latter’s natal day last April 19.

A brief background: Leona Florentino is the Mother of Filipino Female Literature and (essentially) Feminism. A statue of hers sits proudly at the center of the historic town of Vigan in Ilocos Sur, her hometown.

“Her poems, which are widely quoted, were characterized by their originality of thought and elegance of expression on topics such as the glory of Filipino womanhood, and the romanticism of her nation.

According to her biography: ‘Passages from her works were quoted profusely in the theaters, in daily conversation and by suitors seeking the favors of their fair ladies.’

It was the same poems she dedicated to her fellow Ilocanos that were exhibited in the Exposicion General de Filipinas in Madrid in 1887 and in the International Exposicion in Paris in 1889. It won fame for the Philippines and her works were included in the Encyclopedia Internationale des Oeuvres des Femmes (International Encyclopedia of Women’s Works) in 1889.” Read more here.

Castora, on the other hand, is Leona’s wine seller and muse. Most of the latter’s love poems were dedicated to her. So in celebration of the Ilocana heroine’s birthday, I decided to draw her in a gentle moment with her unattainable Castora.

Week 15: Leona and Castora

Week 15: Leona and Castora

Sierva Maria. In honor of one of my favorite authors, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Drawn a couple of days after his death, this is based on his book “Of Love and Other Demons,” which, aside from being my favorite next to “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” has a wonderful cover art I consider one of the most beautiful ones I’ve seen. The cover features the protagonist Sierva Maria holding a bunch of white flowers almost entangled in her cascading copper locks, arms covered with beaded bracelets.

Week 16: Sierva Maria

Week 16: Sierva Maria

“When I stand and contemplate my fate and see the path along which you have led me, I reach my end, for artless I surrendered to one who is my undoing and my end.” — Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Of Love and Other Demons

Project 52: Weeks 7 to 11

In an effort to not make my blog too saturated with Project 52-related entries, I’ve decided to post them in digest form. This endeavour started out as a way for me to put down ideas for possible future paintings on paper. But aside from being a creative exercise, this project has evolved lately into something reflective of what transpired in a week — sort of a visual diary, so to speak. But that doesn’t apply to all drawings of course, and I can’t be expected to specifically point out which ones visually encapsulate events that made such an impression on me or just sudden realizations and thoughts that struck me enough to make me want to draw about them. When a special occasion falls on a certain week, say for example Women’s Day, then my drawing would be something timely for it. So without further ado, here are five weeks’ worth of drawings, which I only found time to scan and add dashes of color to just now. This is the first of two parts. We have a lot of catching up to do.

Butterflies in my Stomach. Drawn for Valentine’s Day. You know what they say in life, love, and everything else – “No guts, no glory.” Literally.

Week 7: Butterflies in my Stomach

Week 7: Butterflies in my Stomach

Strength. It’s when they have crushed and burned every last inch of you that you discover how strong you truly are.

Week 8: Strength

Week 8: Strength

Chasing My Own Shadows (while I’m running away from them). I was listening to Matilda, my favorite all-female local band, when I thought of drawing this. This was inspired by a track from their 2003 EP called “I n Me,” a powerful song that has always spoken to me. Put your headphones on, play it at full blast, and do check out the lyrics. A side note: I had to incorporate a couple of Wayang Kulit in there since I was talking about shadows.

“Oh this is endless perplexity
Unless I understand me
Unless I forgive me
Unless I see, hear, feel, touch, heal
Unless I claim me”

Week 9: Chasing My Own Shadows (while I'm running away from them)

Week 9: Chasing My Own Shadows (while I’m running away from them)

Exit Wounds. Sometimes our best products are born out of our darkest moments. A drawing for International Women’s Day.

Week 11: Exit Wounds

Week 11: Exit Wounds

Sea Witch. I recently found my collection of children’s books while spring cleaning, and was reminded of how beautiful the illustrations are on the Ladybird Well Loved Tales series. “The Little Mermaid” was my favorite. Thanks to a friend (because I couldn’t find it in the book’s insert and I’m bad at Googling information), I learned that the artist was Brian Price Thomas. I must note that the Ladybird classics stand out for their appealing, non-saccharine, almost realistic but still whimsical illustrations. So yes, mermaids — can’t get enough of them. And this is my version of the sea witch, seated on her throne with an anglerfish for a companion just to show how deep within the ocean she resides.

Week 11: Sea Witch

Week 11: Sea Witch

Project 52: Weeks 4 to 6

Thanks to the northeast monsoon, Manila had a pleasantly cool weather for the rest of January. I was so wrong to think that a cold weather would actually get me to work faster on my paintings as sweltering summers slow me down. On the contrary, I found it very conducive to sleep so I pretty much slacked off. Haha! It gets a bit warmer every passing day now – a sad thing because we, Manila folks, have to start stashing away our coats and jackets. While I’m beginning to miss standing by one of my studio windows wide open – wearing a beanie with a shawl wrapped around my shoulders, nursing a hot mug of coffee – I welcome back sunshine and blue skies as I regain my regular speed and focus. Anyway, my drawing for Week 4 is an ode to the month-long abnormally cold weather we were able to enjoy. And if you assumed I named this after a Passion Pit song of the same title, then you are absolutely right. Yes, the one that starts out with, “Please unicorn, eat tacos with me.”

Week 4: Sleepyhead

Week 4: Sleepyhead

And yes, something has to be drawn in time for the Chinese New Year last week. I knew I had to come up with something related to that. First thing that came to mind was a line from Disney’s “Mulan,” which I and a couple of my friends love to quote whenever having tea. It goes:

Pour the tea. To please your future in-laws, you must demonstrate a sense of dignity… and refinement.

There you have it – a Chinese girl pouring tea. Couldn’t help but doodle in those filigrees coming out from the pot as I was killing time in a coffee shop.

Week 5: Pour the Tea

Week 5: Pour the Tea

The idea for my Week 6 drawing was something requested back in 2012 – a Matryoshka doll. Of course I couldn’t resist throwing in a few flowers, paisley patterns, and a kokoshnik. Right. Now that all six drawings are in, I should be able to post on time starting next week. No promises though.

Week 6: Matryoshka

Week 6: Matryoshka

Project 52: Weeks 1 to 3

Back in 2012, I attempted doing a Project 365, which I wasn’t able to complete. I was going steady from January until mid-February, then my production decreased until I was only able to make around 1 to 2 drawings per week – most of which, especially the ones I made after February weren’t even inked or finished. I stopped trying to produce anything for the project in early October.

So this year, I got inspired by Gab to do a Project 52 – one drawing a week – something that is definitely more doable. Since I started a week late, I decided to just include my finished drawing from October 2012 for Week 1 so that this whole project would be a sort of continuation. I’m still keeping a couple of rules — that the images shouldn’t take too long to think about and working on a drawing shouldn’t consume much of the time I should be spending for studio work. In a nutshell, this is to be a breather from painting on large canvases, and a springboard for concepts I might further develop and eventually render as paintings. Plus, this should get me to blog more frequently.

Week 1: Lavender Roses

Week 1: Lavender Roses

My work for Week 2 was originally drawn on the afternoon of the 7th of October 2012, just before I left for Phnom Penh. I was running late for my flight that day. I decided to complete this to take up where I left off, thus, finishing this last January 10. You may view what the unfinished piece looked like here.

Week 2: Don't Look Back

Week 2: Don’t Look Back

Fresh from watching 47 Ronin, my drawing for Week 3 was a girl in a kabuto. It’s no coincidence that this and the one from the previous week are both Japanese-themed. You know how in some arcade games they’d show your character all bloodied and bruised while a countdown ticks on ’til Game Over? This one is somewhat my “Insert coin and press P1 to continue” drawing. This is my way of saying, “Game on! I’ll finish this project this time around.”

Week 3: Girl in a Kabuto

Week 3: Girl in a Kabuto

Oh Despicable June!

June was, in a positive light, challenging to say the least. Right, challenging would be a good way to put it. Being a type of person who lives in the present, I did savor every bit of the obstacles it hurled at me. Couldn’t have gone through it and survived the whole shebang in one piece without my friends and cousins.

Truthfully, it was a very unproductive month – the worst of its kind. It completely and mercilessly sucked out all of my creativity, which is a rare occurrence if you know me personally. I’ll be honest. I had to put on hold my 365 Women Project for the whole month, save for one exceptionally fine evening. Drawing felt like the most natural thing to do as I sat in a coffee shop, killing time on that evening of June 3rd – the calm before the storm. Call it an “epiphanic piece” because it really is that.

Day 149. Pouring My Heart Out. Drawn on a night of a Full Moon in Sagittarius.

They say full moons mark either the culmination or the beginning of things. That particular night of a Full Moon and Lunar Eclipse in Sagittarius was a day for trusting instincts, taking leaps of faith, setting goals straight, breaking through barriers and limitations, and listening to the Universe. And THOSE were exactly what I did, and so much more! I can not even begin to explain the lengths I have gone to without a second of hesitation in the days and weeks that followed. Then again, some experiences are worth having, but not worth repeating. Let’s not get into the details.

June wasn’t all that bad. We, successfully, launched our four-women show towards the end of the month at Secret Fresh. A week later, a wonderful article was written about it by Ms. Elizabeth Lolarga, which came out on the Lifestyle section of The Philippine Daily Inquirer last July 1. (Read the article here.)

For the said exhibit, I tried my hand at designing a munny. It was the last piece I crammed for the show. But since I am used to designing masks, the whole thing took me about 2 hours to complete. It was such a fun experience that I’m sure this will not be the last time I designed one. While it is open for interpretation, one could say that this is my literal take on the Tagalog idiom “naiputan sa ulo.” Anyway, I have a lot of concepts in mind for munny designs. I just need to be able to find time to execute them in the coming months.

My first munny. I named her Vanessa.

In hindsight, I do so believe that June brought out the best in me despite being a horribly tough month. If there are some things it has left me with, those would be enduring lessons, tons of inspiration, and an EPIC story to tell.

So this July, I’m back with a vengeance! On the second day of the month, I got to tick one item off my bucket list, which is to learn Muay Thai. I’ve resumed working on my 365 Women Project and I’m doubling the effort for slacking off for the past month. Aside from that, I’ve started a new painting series – the darkest I’ve conceptualized so far. If that’s not snapping back into action, I don’t know what else is.