From left: a portrait of Celia Diaz Laurel by son Cocoy; Gumamela by Celia Diaz Laurel; and Reclining Nude with Lace Shawl by Celia Diaz Laurel. Images courtesy of Leon Gallery
Culture Art

LOOK! Doy Laurel’s fam showcases artistic talents in rare show of paintings and sculptures

The show includes Cocoy Laurel’s famed portrait of his one-time screen partner Nora Aunor, Iwi’s works with coffee, and Monica Laurel Delgado’s wonderful contemporary experimentations with paint.
Monchito Nocon | Nov 23 2019
When one thinks of the Laurel surname, politics inevitably comes to mind. With illustrious figures as Jose P. Laurel, President of the Second Philippine Republic under the Japanese period; Sotero Laurel, who served as Senator from 1987 to 1992; and then, of course, Salvador “Doy” Laurel, who was Senator from 1967 to 1971, and Vice-President and briefly Prime Minister of the Philippines under Corazon Aquino’s regime—the Laurel name is, no question, ingrained in the country’s political history. 

Yet, alongside the political realm and the legal profession where a good number of them excelled, the prodigious Laurel clan also produced accomplished Filipino artists both in the performing and visual arts. Some of the most notable are the children of the late Doy with his wife Celia Diaz Laurel. Celia alone, in her youth, was hailed “Queen of Legitimate Theater” while also excelling as a painter.

Monica Delgado's Zombie #2, acrylic

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In what is a rare and wonderful occasion, Mrs. Laurel, together with her children Victor “Cocoy” Laurel, Iwi Laurel, Celine “Lynnie” Laurel Castillo, and Monica Laurel Delgado have come together for the commemorative exhibit dubbed ESPRESSIÓ: A Laurel Family Art Exhibit on view now at León Gallery’s Corinthian Plaza, Makati, space until December 1, 2019.

Victor D. Laurel's Nora Aunor, A Shower of Roses From a Standing Ovation, oil on Canvas, 70" x 34.5".

ESPRESSIÓ, a benefit show for the scholars of the Salvador H Laurel Foundation also commemorates the 91st birth anniversary of the former Vice President. 

It is only the second time the family has participated together in such an exhibition. “The first time was at Megamall in 2000,” shares Monica, the oldest among the Laurel daughters. “After mounting a musical concert last year, we were thinking of a way to commemorate my dad’s birthday. It was Iwi’s idea to have an art exhibit.”

Immediately, some members of the family were asked to contribute and participate; and the result is an exhibition that features an eclectic display of artworks both in the form of paintings and sculptures, all of which reveal the breadth and depth of the family’s artistic talents.

“Our exposure to the arts began since we were children,” shares Iwi, who is also known for her singing voice. Hers is the voice behind the 80s hit “Special Memory.” “Thanks to our mom, everyone in the family is into the arts; if not the performing arts, the visual arts as well. It’s really not hard to fall into it.” 

Celia Diaz Laurel's Gumamela,  oil on canvas, 48" x 48"

Unbeknownst to many, Celia Diaz Laurel—best known for starring in many plays of Repertory Philippines as a Yale-schooled dramatic actor for stage—also studied fine arts at the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts under such masters as Fernando Amorsolo, Guillermo Tolentino, Napoleon Abueva, and Jose Joya, all National Artists. She counts Araceli Dans, and Juvenal Sanso—acclaimed artists both—as her contemporaries. 

For ESPRESSIÓ, Mrs Laurel presents five oils on canvas featuring, among others, a still life and flora, a landscape scene, and two portraits, including one of daughter Lynnie and one of her kids.

Lynnie Laurel, traviesa, wood, brass, moss and dried flowers, 45 x 45 x 20cm

Unknown to many, Celia studied fine arts at the UPFA under masters Fernando Amorsolo and Guillermo Tolentino, along with Napoleon Abueva, and Jose Joya

Cocoy Laurel, a matinee idol who broke through the fields of TV, movie, theater, and the concert stage, is not only a composer but also a portraitist. He studied Fine Arts in the Ciudad Universitario de San Fernando in Madrid, Spain, before he was cast alongside Nora Aunor in the classic film Lollipops and Roses. For ESPRESSIÓ, his five portraits in oil on canvas includes his classic depictions of mother Celia, sister Denise, and that of the Superstar herself.

Celia and Iwi (both in white) among friends during the opening reception.

Celine “Lynnie” Laurel Castillo, who began as Bayleaf’s fashion designer in the 80s and has since ventured into songwriting, has long been fascinated with the allure and mystery of wood as an artistic medium and subject. Thus, for the Leon Gallery show, Lynnie showcases eight inspired and inspiring coffee wood tableaus with moss and brass. This sculpture sequence captures the narrative of building a family using three-dimensional space.

A portrait of the late patriarch Doy Laurel

Iwi, the youngest of Doy Laurel’s daughters, has dabbled as a watercolor hobbyist, but has been formally launched as a coffee artist in 2011 with a debut solo exhibit. Intrigued and enamored by homegrown barako coffee, she combines this organic medium with acrylic and gels. These are the foundation of her five mixed media atmosphere pieces in ESPRESSIÓ.

Finally, New York-based Monica Laurel Delgado completes the family show by flying in her fantastic experiments on and with paint as both medium and subject for her starkly vivid and powerful abstractions. For ESPRESSIÓ, she combines her highly conceptual theoretical oeuvres with a penchant to extend the limits of her medium, coming up with seven daring statements on form, color, and content.

Iwi Laurel's Springtime, mixed media with barako coffee, 30" x 30"

Now while it would appear it was only their mom who was instrumental in their involvement in the arts, Cocoy reveals that their father Doy also possessed the gift.

“When we were small, believe it or not, we’d go to his office where he’d get his pencil and he’d draw—without lifting it—the perfect profile of Prince Valiant,” Cocoy says. “He never told anyone about this talent except us kids who knew. I heard he also wanted to be an architect.”

Iwi Laurel's Friendly Doors, acrylic with barako, 30" x 30"

When asked what his father would’ve thought of the exhibit if he was still alive, Cocoy replies: “We’d force him, convince him to join. Drawing was actually natural for him.”


ESPRESSIÓ: A Laurel Family Art Exhibit is on view at the Leon Gallery International, G/F Corinthian Plaza along Paseo de Roxas in Legazpi Village, Makati City, and will run until December 1, Sunday.