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Interview on abs-cbn global

TRULY PINOY

Five Kuwait-based Filipino painters’ burning passion of the arts defies the local norms to show the whole world what Filipino artistry is all about.

“Lumalagablab” (or flaming) — if there is one word that best describes their undertaking, this would be it. They go by the catchphrase: “Dibuho ng iba’t ibang kaisipan, kaalaman, paniniwala at magkakaibang emosyon… nabuo sa iisang ADHIKA. (Image/Design of various mindset, knowledge, belief and different emotions… created with one MISSION.)” Hence, they named themselves ‘Adhika’ or aspiration. Five brilliantly gifted Filipino artists in Kuwait converge together to celebrate freedom and beauty through various mediums. Indeed, the group has an extensive array of masterpieces from still life paintings, portraits, abstracts to landscapes. Their paintings and sketches are not confined with the traditional oil, acrylic and mix medium on canvass, wood or paper. Adhika has proven that junk materials and drift wood could craft an art just as stunning. As the American scientist and philosopher Peter Michael Senge once said “Mission instills the passion and patience for the long journey,” Adhika knew that they are to traverse a rather lengthy voyage in the Middle East and with this insight comes the perseverance to show the world the Filipinos’ gift of the arts.

RADIATING ON THE PALETTE
It all started when about two years ago, Warba Advertising art director Jojo Cabrera was made in charge in presenting art pieces for the company’s head office. Dave Constantino (then an art director and veteran expatriate with fifteen years of experience) and relatively new bloods in Kuwait: art director Ding Bautista, interior designer Ever Villacruz, and production site engineer Rolly Patilla were called to be worthy allies for the commission. All of them were under the Warba Group of advertising and design companies. As a team, they worked on the nitty-gritty of the over-all exhibition. And because they have accomplished their first mission with the praises of their guests and executives, Dave finally came up with a name to call the fiery ensemble—ADHIKA. Since then plans of their exhibits in Kuwait and in Dubai had been on the way. They believe that it is in their hands to show the talents and skills of the Pinoy artists here in the Middle East. Aside from creating marvelous artworks for the pleasure of its spectators, this likewise served as a venue for them to do away with homesickness that could sometimes be detrimental to their creativity.

“It all began with a single painting,” recounts Jojo or ‘Jocab’. “It was an expression of thoughts, emotions and ‘heart-work’. Soon after, a group of people began to discuss, share knowledge and the passion for the arts… We are people with God-given talents to see, to visualize. Most of all, our main mission (‘adhika’) is to spread to other people how it feels like to see through an artist’s mind, to make others see how the world would look like or feel like in forms, colors and emotions.” It is rather notable that among the five, Jojo has got the artistic blood flowing through his veins. His father was the late painter, cartoonist and illustrator Salvador Cabrera. But what Dave, Ever, Ding and Rolly couldn’t thank heredity, they account for their innate endowment of limitless manifestation of one’s concept and identity. Exploring the world’s diverse culture for many years, Dave observed that Filipino artistry, for one, is certainly competing in the global arena. Same are the sentiments of the other members of the group who proudly speaks of how Filipino artists have always been in the forefront. Such capacity is contributed by our open-mindedness and uninhibited culture of creation and expression.

SETTING THE CANVASS ABLAZE
The liberty of what their art profess does not usually sit well in a land whose name was derived from an Arabic worn meaning ‘fortress built near water’. With this they uphold to create what is truly in their hearts and minds. Their bristles magically work their way to depict traditional Filipino practices of farming, fishing, mango-picking to name a few. They have also immortalized the exotic beauty of the Filipina, Pakistani and Egyptian women. Femininity was highlighted in many of their works giving a sacred light to it. Bits and pieces of the land they have started calling home emanate from their fine art—Kuwait’s busy downtown, Jahara Desert and the iconic images that reminds them of the place. Multicultural-themed paintings also feature Arabic Bedouins, native instruments and weaponry, as well as the African tribal dance and Aztec interpretations. True to their statement: “with wings of fire that will come onto your dream,” fantasies come to reality with their impressions of angels and other fairytale creatures. Adhika didn’t settle to the confines of the canvass as they have gone deviant with their ‘junk art’. These are sculptures and miniatures of knights, warriors, animals, women, unearthly creatures and reprised movie characters such as the Ghost Rider made of, yes, junk and accessories.

Challenges such as constraining their freedom in a land that has historically been deprived of it and the nonchalant reaction of some compatriots to their works do not dishearten our emissaries of the arts. One could see the ‘life’ wanting to come out from each and every creation. Not one would find a mundane piece in their collection. In every focal point shares a part of our artists’ spirits. Jojo would like to answer this question he made himself: How can you feel and see your surroundings? “Open your heart and express it through painting. Then you’ll see the world in a totally new way. Somehow it helps to ease the stress of the modern times. It is all just about one sensation: to feel.” Genuinely, it is the Filipino pride that aflame in each stroke of Adhika’s paintbrushes…

By: Nikki Pechuela-Famador

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