Betchay, a long-time marketmanila.com reader, had graciously invited Mrs. MM and I to the opening of this wonderful, unusual and visually stunning exhibit, now at the National Museum. We were out of town at the time, but I promised Betchay we would visit the exhibit soon after it opened… So one day last week, after taking a quick trip to the GSIS museum to see Gejo’s (another reader) painting of a lechonan on exhibit there, we decided to visit the National Museum as well, which has recently been renovated and is very much worth a first or repeat visit, if you have never been before.
I have to admit I was curious about Hocus, what was billed as a collaboration between a historian and a painter, and done in a style of several centuries ago. This write-up in the Inquirer is quite informative, and we went just to take in the paintings themselves, knowing just that teeny tiny bit about their background story…
The theme of the church and the Spanish colonizers is a familiar one, and honestly, not one of my favorite genres of paintings at all. But this exhibit was beautifully curated, the paintings just that much more stunning, new looking old, content-rich, vibrant but dour, serious but in your face. I am not sure how else to describe it but unusual, head-turning, thought-provoking, a bit of another era, but right smack in the middle of today.
My grandmother had several old antique religious paintings from the era, which were much more religiously one-dimensional and dark and dirty from centuries covered in soot and grime… many of them we loaned to the Basilica de Santo Niño and they hang in their museum to this day. But I wouldn’t want any of those paintings hanging in our living room today.
These paintings, however, tell more of story, probably much deeper than the superficial ones I was registering, but they were also rather visually appealing. Colours were vibrant but not tacky, the feel was of a modern day artist painting in a very classical way. I would definitely love to have one or two of these paintings hanging on our walls… Or better yet, commission Mr. Custodio to paint a family portrait, but set three centuries earlier… :)
Betchay, I particularly loved this painting. Not sure why, I just really liked it.
A book was published along with the exhibit, so you can get a copy if you like at the museum I would imagine. If you are in Manila, take a few hours to visit the National Museum, not only for this HOCUS exhibition, but for the other galleries as well, a post on those up next.
P.S. Betchay, email me if you or the artist (currently the private collection owners I presume) :) are selling that bridge painting. I know someone who is interested. Or if he is open to a commissioned family portrait. :)