THE CULTURAL Center of the Philippines is holding a grand retrospective exhibit of the art and times of Thomasian artist Danilo Dalena, one of the foremost Philippine expressionists and a nominee for the National Artist for Visual Arts award. It is running on the third- and fourth-floor galleries of the CCP until March 4.
The title of the exhibit, The Last Full Show, is intriguing and even worrying art aficionados, anxious that Dalena, who hasn’t been regularly exhibiting for 25 years now due to health reasons, may be paving for his exit.
But Dalena, now 75, clarified that he chose the title exactly to underscore he had not stopped practicing his craft despite facing several health crises and taking a break from the art-gallery circuit.
“People should not take the title seriously,” Dalena told the Varsitarian. “As the title suggests, last full shows are just an indication that there is an event going on.”
The exhibit features over 500 of Dalena’s paintings, editorial cartoons, sketches, sculptures and studies from more than 40 private collectors, including Lopez Museum and Library, Silvana Diaz of Duemila, Gilda Cordero Fernando, columnist Recah Trinidad, and the family’s private collection.
Displayed along Pasilyo Guillermo Tolentino is Dalena’s “Pakil” series from 1984 such as “Portreia,” which shows faceless human figures conversing.
From his “Jai-Alai” series is “Special Llave,” showing again faceless figures clumped together while waiting in line to place their bets on their favorite player.
A more recent work, “Kayang-Kaya” (2005), is from his “Exercise” series, shows a nude obese man sitting on an elevated brick-floor while lifting small barbells above his head.
Known for injecting wit and satire in his paintings, Dalena’s “The Fall of Bataan” (2003) humorously depicts an old man wearing hospital clothes, with slipping adult diapers.
All of his works are painted in Dalena’s signature style of expression, an aesthetic characterized by distortion and high-intensity and very textured brushwork.
Dalena is also fond of painting portraits. Suspended on the walls of Pasilyo Victorio Edades are more than 20 paintings and sketches of his friends dated from 1981 to 1995.
“All of my artworks are based on my recalled memories and experiences. My art is not about predictions, it’s about my experiences in different aspects of my life,” Dalena told the Varsitarian.
In 1990, Dalena had a major survey exhibition in the Bulwagang Juan Luna of CCP. It was his last major exhibit before the current Last Full Show.
Dalena took up fine arts in the old College of Architecture and Fine Arts. His teachers included Galo Ocampo, Diosdado Lorenzo and National Artist Victorio Edades.
In 1964, Dalena won second prize in the Shell National Students Art Competition. After graduation, Dalena worked in publishing, doing editorial cartoons and political illustrations Philippines Free Press Magazine and Asia-Philippines Reader where he worked with National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin.