Wooden treasures

Published November 22, 2021, 10:23 AM

by Fojas Sara Grace C.

The group exhibition ‘Kaarawan, Musika, at mga Larawan’ puts the spotlight on Filipino culture

William Gaudinez’ sculptural art is not something you see in your regular museum or art gallery trip. Using his main medium, wood assemblage, acrylic, industrial paint, and other found objects, William draws inspiration from Filipino music and culture. With an incredible eye for design, he has managed to achieve several art pieces that will take you back to what it was like in the Philippines back in the day.

William Gaudinez

Displayed at Banlat Gallery, “Kaarawan, Musika, at mga Larawan” puts together some of the best of what Philippine art and music can offer, including the late Original Pilipino Music icon Heber Bartolome’s art collection, composed of the works of Fil dela Cruz, Junyee, Edd Aragon, National Artist BenCab, H.R. Ocampo, Hermisanto Rosacay, and Boy Gozum, among others.

“The group exhibition I have joined is at the late Heber Bartolome’s new art gallery and music museum, Banlat Gallery. Little did we all know that a week after launching our works in his art gallery, he would pass away. Of all the group exhibitions I have joined, this was quite special because I felt that I was part of his unique legacy in creating original Filipino folk songs and also in his own art making. Heber explained to me that Banlat meant a cage for keeping cows of Tandang Sora. The historical place is where the Katipuneros tore their cedulas and feasted on 80 cows before their fierce attack on the Spanish soldiers. In a way, this exhibition is a celebration of Heber’s colorful life, who opened the gallery on his birthday,” intimates William.

‘Ang Makabagong Libangan,’ Mixed media on Canvas, 2021

‘Ang Babala,’ Mixed media on Canvas, 2021

William begins the process of his creation through extensive research, before delving into the visuals and sketches and finally creating his wooden masterpiece. His creative process revolves around reading and meditating on how he can best respond to a certain issue or event that involves the future of our nation.

“I try to always present the different facets of Philippine culture in my work and showcase what appears to be ‘extinct’ like unknown folk traditions and long lost cultural practices that are still being observed yet remain ignored by the current generation. As much as possible I do innovative versions of the traditional two-door retable and the four-door uma. Lately, I ventured into creating and sculpting hardwood sculptures that present commentaries on, for example, the Filipina’s discontent with how she looks and how she prefers to have cosmetic procedure to look more American or European because she feels inferior with her original image,” says William.

‘Ang Kapalit,’ Sculpted Hardwood Assemblage, 2021

‘Ang Pagtukso Kay Luzviminda,’ Mixed media on Canvas, 2021

William describes his work as neo-folk that is based on relevant themes of the nation’s historical past.

“I fuse it with my work process of sculpting, carving, inlaying of indigenous materials on hardwood together with a wooden assemblage. I became interested in doing my versions of the long lost two-door retablo or four-door urna so after working with oils on canvas, I decided to search for a much more appropriate form to represent the Philippine identity and I found it in the indigenous works of the Tagbanwas, Isnegs, Igorots, and unknown Pinoy folk artisans who have been creating the ancient retablo,” he says.

In the exhibit, William is most proud of the four-door urna, which features a four-door altar that reveals sculpted figures when opened. He also loves his poste retable that includes a lazy Susan to show back-to-back tableaux of sculpted figures.

‘Ang Reyna ng Karnabal ng Tagpi-Tagping Pangarap,’ Mixed media on Canvas, 2021

‘Ang Pananampalataya Laban sa Buhay na Bangungot,’ Mixed media on Canvas, 2021

“These works highlight the basic focus of my concept on hardwood doors and using inlaid indigenous materials mounted on an antique and hardwood base. For me, art reflects the soul of the nation. Our inner consciousness presents how we are and how we would evolve eventually in this digitally-wired crazy world. Though our culture is a mix of different influences from other countries, we also have our own culture, our indigenous art that has evolved,” he ends.

Banlat Art and Music Museum is located at 170 Banlat Road, Tandang Sora, Quezon City. “Kaarawan, Musika, at Larawan Group Exhibition,” is not just a celebration of Filipino culture but also a celebration of OPM icon Heber Bartolome’s life, who filled Philippine culture with wonderful music.