Watch: Filipino motion artist gives life to an Amorsolo masterpiece

Published February 2, 2021, 4:31 PM

by John Legaspi

We need more of this

Fernando Amorsolo’s “Couple Riding A Carabao During Sunset”

Looking at an artwork displayed in museums, particularly visual art, is an undeniably unique experience. You get to see the texture of the brush strokes. People can examine how the artist skillfully blends colors on the portrait. They have a chance to get personal with the painter by going through the sleek and sometimes imperfect lines that all together add to the beauty of the pieces. But seeing a painting’s elements move is a totally different experience.

That’s what motion graphic artist Mark Cañega did with one of Fernando Amorsolo’s masterpieces. Just like in the movie Loving Vincent, Mark gives us a glimpse of what it is like to see a Filipino artwork when animated, first with the National Artist for Visual Arts’ “Couple Riding A Carabao During Sunset” piece.

“I love all the paintings of Sir Fernando Amorsolo, most of us are familiar with his works since our elementary days. As someone who has been into art since childhood, his works gave me the motivation to become more interested in art as I grew older,” he tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “Especially this work of his entitled ‘Couple Riding A Carabao During Sunset,’ I chose it because I’m amused at how it shows what love and life were way back then.”

His animated work brought out the old romanticism of rural life in the country captured by the hands of the “Grand Old Man pf Philippine Art.” With “Sa Sulyap Mo” by Diomedes Maturan playing in the background coupled with the warm mood of the sunset, the quiet couple, and the tame carabao—the video gives all the emotions and nostalgia you can get from the golden hours before the nighttime. 

The idea of bringing Amorsolo’s artworks to life started last year as he wishes to do a series of animations featuring his works. This way, museum-goers can still enjoy seeing art with their smartphones until the day they could visit the galleries again.

“For this first one, it took me around three days to finish everything mostly in my free time. The hardest part, I guess, is when separating each element on the scene, from the carabao to the characters, the grass, and as well as the background,” he says. “It is also tricky when you need to repaint some parts. You need to be more careful to maintain the authenticity and the traditional look as much as possible, because messing around with the details will lose the point of animating the original artwork.”

A quick stroll on Mark’s Instagram wall and you will see the range of his works, exploring different styles, approaches, and techniques. There is one where he infuses renaissance art with Manila’s rainy commute. People should definitely see his highly imaginative view of EDSA and post-apocalyptic Philippines.

“As you can see in most of my personal works, I normally like to do looping animation. The main reason for that is I usually do these works mostly in my free time. It’s like a stress reliever for me from working hard on ‘work-work’ projects. It’s different when you work on something that’s all for yourself. From the concept up to the final look, it’s all yours and that is so fulfilling,” he says. “Normal people will go on vacation or staycation or whatever in their free time. But for me, I use my free time to work on something for myself, it makes me happy, it makes me ‘me’ as an artist.”

Right now, Mark works as a freelance video artist and does video effects, compositing, animation, motion designs, and editing mostly for TV ads and short films. He also does part-time teaching at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde in  the Animation Program, where he studied animation. 

“I like it when my art/style gives people the feeling of comfort and elegance when they see it,” Mark says. “The more they watch it, the more they see all the small details that make it more engaging and beautiful.”

See more of his works @markcng.