AT THE SOLSTICE
STILL LIFE 1
Oil on Canvas
OSCAR LEDESMA JR
2019 Not for Sale
Oil on Canvas
Oil on Canvas
Oil on Canvas
At the Solstice of her Art
By Cid Reyes
In the inaugural show of the Legacy Art Gallery, some of the country’s accomplished realistic painters participated with their latest marvels on canvas. Titled “Romancing with Light,” the select group show of the Visual Artists Guild presented a collection of formidable portraits suffused with subtle hauteur and elegant languor, as well as landscapes bathed in light-intoxicating radiance. But there, in a quiet corner, hung a work that conflated the concepts of “portrait” and “landscape.” For it was a work preening with pleasure, distinguished by a curious subject – peacocks! - which nature, as we say, is “to strut its stuff.”
And strut, they did – those brilliant-bluebirds with their impressive plumage and piercing yowl.
Taking the Plunge
The painting was the work of the artist Tina Periquet. Better known as an interior architect, Periquet has now taken the plunge with her first solo show, her formal bow to Manila’s art community. Opening on June 22, the show is appropriately titled “At the Solstice.” While, indubitably, Periquet has made her mark in the Philippine interior world – she is principal designer of Periquet Galicia, the firm that restored the façade and renovated the interiors of the Philippine National Museum of Natural History – she nonetheless is seriously intent on mastering the art of realism. She has taken, and continues to take, art lessons at the famed Art Students League in New York. Too, she acknowledges the mentorship of Romulo Galicano, Gig de Pio, Ed Lantin, and of course, Dante Silverio, an inspirational figure. Silverio, from being a renowned sportsman, has incarnated himself as a respected and accomplished artist.
Drama and Discipline
In Periquet’s maiden show, we see once again the presence of the regal peacocks, looking like patrician fowls, and it augurs well: for Periquet’s emerging persona in design and art commingles a dose of theatrical drama and a disciplined measure of restraint and judiciousness. Such are the visual effusions of the centrepiece work, “A Midsummer’s Daydream.” It’s a metaphor for human ritual courtship with its attendant romantic tension. To be sure, it alludes to the play of the Great Bard, Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.” Crystallized in the oft-quoted line “The course of love never did run smooth,” the play is a theatrical paean to romantic love: “blind, irrational, often beautiful force.”
Space of Order and Harmony
In her art, Periquet brings to bear the discipline essential to interior space, affecting form, space, light, and shadow. An ardent proponent of the value of light in her profession, she infuses a woodsy scenery - in which are nestled the peacock, displaying its splendid train, and the apprehensive-looking peahens - with tones of burnished russet browns, tinged with gold, evocative of a lambent autumnal glow. Moreover, recalling Periquet, in speaking of her design work as a space of order and harmony, we see a lush and luxuriant foliage in accord with a well-ordered nature, not wild, untrimmed or unwieldy. Were this scene rendered with impressionistic daubs of pigments, the retinal pleasure would surely have been diminished.
Balance and Harmony
Indeed, this sense of balance and harmony extends into her other plein aire, on-the-spot, works such those done in the Japanese imperial gardens. Serenity inhabits as well her seashore scenes - airy, vacant, desolate but in a blissful state, a sheer exhalation of empty space, as if in repose after the departure of a horde of tourists.
But what most challenges Periquet, by her own admission, is the art of portraiture. (At this, we recall a daunting statement made by the redoubtable portraitist of Spanish royalty and Manila’s elite, Betsy Westendorp Brias: “A portrait painter is born, not made.”) In this show, Periquet proffers her recent output in portraiture, among which we were immediately intrigued by a couple of works, titled “Compliance” and “Pugnacious.” From beyond the physical likeness of the sitters, who were obviously not professional models but more like Fellini-esque figures from real life, bearing the wear and tear of time, emerges a transparency of personal mood and emotional state. One feels an underlying surliness, anxiety or resignation, a passive-aggressiveness that seethes despite the purported composure of the pose. Clearly, the implication in Periquet’s portraits is that emotion and character must be transcribed and captured as if it were translucent membrane, in as much as aging flesh can be as opaque as the pigment that embodies the figures.
With “At the Solstice,” Tina Periquet is riding the crest of her artistic career.
Cid Reyes is the author of choice of National Artists Arturo Luz, BenCab, J. Elizalde Navarro, and Napoleon V. Abueva. He is the author of the landmark book of interviews, “Conversations on Philippine Art.”