Is creativity in the genes? The answer is yes, especially when one sees “Artistic Legacies,” showing till March 31 at the Museo Orlina in Tagaytay City, Cavite.
The exhibit showcases the works of top artists and their children who have likewise embarked on artistic careers: the late monuments builder Eduardo Castrillo and his children Mierro, NIxxio, and Ovvian; glass-sculpture supremo Ramon Orlina (but of course, it’s his museum after all!) and his kids Anna and Michael; veteran painter and printmaker Fil Delacruz and his son, Janos Delacruz, one of today’s exciting young names in contemporary art; modernist Raul Lebajo and his sons Gio and Nikulas, who like his dad won early on top prizes in the annual Shell, the oldest national art contest in the country; and best-selling painter Emmanuel Garibay and his very talented brood consisting of Alee, Bam, and Nina.
The premise of the show, according to the exhibit notes, is to show “the art of families … from their catalysts to their continuing legacies.” “Catalysts” of course are the progenitors or patriarchs—the elder Castrillo, Orlina, Delacruz, Lebajo, and Garibay. And their “continuing legacies” are their flesh-and-blood—their children.
The Castrillos have taken after their dad’s metal-sculpture mastery. Mierro Castrillo was project manager for Eduardo Castrillo’s many important commissions here and abroad; his sculptures, particularly the abstracts, are a celebration of his dad’s monumental legacy.
Nixxio also assisted in his dad’s commissions and his works are smaller-scale reinterpretations of the master’s representational monuments, particularly the Crucified Christ. Nixxio’s innovation could be seen in the abstract sculptures: he has added color to the metallic luster so that their geometrical modernism is heightened.
Ovvian’s oeuvre likewise take after the elder Castrillo’s, particularly after his “sculpture paintings,” in which two-dimensional abstract forms in metal are framed as in a painting. Sometimes combined with wood, the metal forms evoke a sense of concreteness and their texture and finish combine to catch the eye and invite contemplation.
Genes and environment
Nixxio Castrillo agrees that his dad’s genes have been passed on to him. “Yes. I believe that genes play a major part in my creativity,” he declares. “I also feel that the environment I grew up in also played a big role in my artistic practice. In addition to this, I was fortunate to have very supportive parents and to come from an environment where my talents were nurtured.”
Nixxio admits he has cultivated his artistic talent along with his siblings and the craftsmen of the Castrillo atelier. “We were raised to believe that it would be a great disservice to our Creator to not utilize what He has given us,” he says. “One cannot rely on one’s genes alone…One has to have a sense of discipline. I have trained myself to be observant of the world around me.”
The elder Lebajo’s works, with their signature surrealist images of what look like organic forms (which I call arboresque art), stand in stark contrast to those by his son Nikulas, mainly untitled works that depict rows and rows of bottles or pots: the organic and the biotic are thus pitted against artifice and the functional. (But it should be pointed out here that Nikulas’ other oeuvre meld the botanic and the concrete; they’re not included in the exhibit, though.) Gio Lebajo’s works are closer in spirit to the art of his sibling: they are spare and often geometric mixed-media paintings that seem calculated to evoke meditation.
Fil Delacruz and son Janos are among local art’s most formidable father-and-son pairings. Both have received the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Thirteen Artists Awards: Fil in 1991, Janos in 2018. In “Artistic Landscapes,” the elder Delacruz is represented by his signature “Diwata” series of paintings and prints, with its distinguished iconography that melds the woman figure and visage with flora and fauna that should stand for the union of humanity and nature, on the one hand, and for the duality that characterizes human nature, on the other.
Janos is represented likewise by both paintings and prints, both distinguished by his impressive doodling (seemingly free-hand drawing) and solid graphic skills. Most notable in Janos’ works in the exhibit are two vertical works along his “Trese” series, characterized by his signature social commentary-cum-self-exploration.
Garibays and Orlinas
Art-auction favorite Emmanuel Garibay is represented by his standard works reeking of social realism. Alee, Bam, and Nina Garibay seem more or less to take after their dad’s aesthetics.
Bam heightens the social realism of his work through the naif idiom. Alee’s seems the closest to her dad’s style; her oil-on-canvas works depicting women figures in traditional Philippine costumes with their demeanor made ineffable by whirls and whorls that seem to recast their history into the present.
It is Nina Garibay who has clearly come to her own: her women-figures are either celebrated lovingly or rendered alienated from their social space; like her dad’s, hers is social commentary in mordant colors.
Perhaps the most interesting works from the Orlina family are the collaborations between Ramon and his son Michael, in which cut-glass forms in the abstract are endowed with Ramon’s trademark modern and very graceful form and finish on the one hand, and Michael’s penchant for jagged, even rough gestural markings, on the other.
Meanwhile Anna Orlina continues her father’s glass-art legacy but innovating it and actually coming to her own by her more representational and more geometrical approach: as against Ramon’s curves and volumes, she goes for cubes and blocks. She also differs in her color palate, allowing for transparent colorlessness to dominate sometimes. But most of the time, she goes for Mondrianesque colors.
Photos by Dexter R. Matilla