I admire his works. Incidentally he is also a close friend, my ka-batch in high school, and former college fraternity brother. In my opinion, he has included in this exhibit some of his most honest if not the best pieces in his young career. From all the years of knowing him, I’ve always felt that Redd Nacpil has something different and interesting to show in his works and that he should be given the attention accorded to an important young painter. He is in the league but was never really part of any shows by young contemporary figuratives some five years ago which thawed out quickly before they could be recognized any better. Many retired from painting, a few went on with other groups. On a rare solo flight, Redd always seems like he’s only just beginning and beginning strongly every time. With nearly inscrutable images, he never aimed to please or be didactic; he frequently balances chaotic instants or ecstasies like the last breath before dying moment in the painting shown with a tinge of mockery or underlying humour. It reminds me deeply and equally of art historical references (such as the Pieta) and of cliché movie scenes where people who are about to die actually get to speak so lucidly. And the irritation is profound. Please join me in opening his exhibition at Light and Space Contemporary on the 15th of December 2012, Saturday at 7pm.
Artist Jerusalino “Jerry” V. Araos passed away on December 23. He was 68.
I learned from my news feed that Jerry Araos passed away today. He is not a friend or a person close to me but I have one vivid memory of him: I was in college and I was organizing a tree planting activity. Jerry was landscaping a derelict section of the UP Fine Arts campus in Diliman. Dean Tina Colayco tipped that he could sell me some seedlings. Prior to seeing him, people warned me that he was a difficult person and that his temperament could spurn people. But since I was going to haggle for the price of the seeds, negotiating with him was inevitable. Beneath his mix of bored and acidic personality though, I saw a person who was willing to engage young people. Jerry was sagacious and I figured that we could get along even if just for an afternoon’s conversation. It was drizzling anyway so I stayed in the workshop where he was working. He talked about his book entitled “The Garden Of Two Dragons Fucking.” I laughed at the mention of the title. He said, “I’m serious.” I haven’t read it but he went on with his story. I asked him about his Bonsai. And corrected me, “Bansoy not Bonsai.” He said what he’s doing is Filipino and he would gladly decorate colleges in UP for free if he were allowed. He also talked about the Manuela tree and the Aurora tree, named after the famous Malacanang couple. The Aurora tree was among the first planted on campus and it was named after Dona Aurora because she planted them herself. I’m not sure whether he discovered it or coined the name for it long after. When the conversation came to my agenda. He asked about my budget. “Magkano ba?” a little irritated of the fact that I seem to be cutting him in his dreamy stream-of-consciousness monologue. “Mga 6,000 po,” I said, a little shy. “Ang cheap mo naman! nagbutal ka pa… gawin mo nang 10,000!” At that time, I really only had 2,000 pesos in my pocket. He said, it was going to be more presentable in the photos if we planted young trees and not seeds. I agreed. Maybe I wanted the photos to look good, maybe I wanted to plant more trees, or maybe I was just carried away by the man’s passion for horticulture that it somehow transferred. Anyway… to cut the long story short, after a few days I came back with the amount. I didn’t know how appealing it was but people would actually give money so they could name the trees. The dean, the faculty, the student council, the sorority girls, my gang. They all took photos with the trees while pretending to shovel soil on it, when in fact they only spilled some and let the gardeners do the rest. I looked for Jerry but he wasn’t there for the photos. He finished the landscaping and was probably on to his next green project. In his life, he may have impacted on as many or more people as the number of trees he has grown. He also left us extra trees so I could plant them elsewhere in UP. I wasn’t able to thank him for this. Years passed but we never saw each other again. Once in a while when I pass by the campus and get a glimpse of the trees, growing taller and leafier, I recall Jerry and that conversation. The color of that meeting and the smell of rain, how memories of meeting some good people are planted and then just grow even without tending.