MANY YEARS of painting has almost taken a toll on Mario Parial’s health. Because he has to stoop every time he paints, Parial suffered from slipped disc and underwent surgery in 2002.

For six months, he had to endure back pains that prevented him from walking and painting. But when he slowly recovered from his illness through grueling therapy sessions, Parial made it a point to take brisk walks and take pictures with his digital camera.

“I’d take pictures of anything I’ve chanced my eyes upon on,” he said.

Unsatisfied with nothing to do, he experimented with Photoshop until the wee hours of the morning every time he could not sleep well.

It was when he conceived his “computer-generated” art—surreal yet sensible artworks done with just a few clicks with the help of Photoshop.

“Luckily, my doctor is my patron so [he] and the hospital didn’t let me pay my fees. In return, I gave him six frames of my computer-generated artwork,” Parial said.

Mixed media

The illness and recovery afforded Parial the chance to explore digital mixed media, a departure from his oil or acrylic on canvas or paper works.

He has already finished 50 pieces of the new media, which were captured in different vintage cameras, printed on paper, and stroked with acrylic. The works will be featured in an exhibit in September.

“While others don’t want to get their photographs touched, I would even play with my hands on it,” said Parial about digital art making.

His photos will feature just about anything, from children playing to the desolate trees in the park.

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Using more than 10 vintage cameras in his artworks, Parial blends photography and painting.

“My purpose is to orient and educate so that if they see something new, they’ll be intrigued and study about it,” he said.

The new works are a breath of fresh air to Parial’s dynamic artistry. In a way, the playful use of the camera complements Parial’s folk style and vintage naïf colors.

The 1969 UST Advertising alumnus has had 22 one-man shows and more than 20 group shows here and abroad, such as the Thirteen Artists Exhibit in the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in 1972 and the Prints Show in Bonn, Germany.

His most recent exhibit, “Festivo,” featured themes and figures of ordinary Filipino life painted in vivid hues that are Parial’s trademark.

The vibrant paintings describe Parial’s well-being and simplicity, clearly seen in his artworks with village folks as his subjects.

“My favorite subjects are women, clowns, vendors, and the religious,” Parial said.

His oeuvre, “Pink Venus,” a 36”x32” acrylic on canvas, was included in Borobudur’s Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary Art auction in Suntec City, Singapore last May 17.

His Marian works have also been featured in the international book, Miracles of Mary, along with the works of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.

Young art

Parial’s artistic bent showed early on during his grade school days at the Pura V. Kalaw Elementary School in Quezon City. Instead of listening to the class discussion, he would rather sketch figures at the back of his notebook.

“I always got punished by standing in the corner. The next day, the same thing would happen all over again,” the 63-year-old Parial said.

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A native of Nueva Ecija, Parial is one of the 14 children of Fidel Parial and Aurora Torres. Because of the size of the family, the parents barely raised enough money for food to feed a very big brood.

“It was hard but happy at the same time,” Parial said.

When he entered high school in 1958, he became the staff artist/art editor for Duplex, the publication of the Roosevelt Memorial School in Quezon City.

In 1963, Parial enrolled in UST where he was able to pay his tuition through installment.

Although his mother discouraged him from taking up Fine Arts, Parial took a chance and majored in Advertising Arts.

As a sophomore, Parial learned printmaking under Manuel Rodriguez Sr., the father of printmaking in the Philippines.

Rodriguez’s style features people with elongated necks and small heads, and the style greatly influenced Parial in figuration.

Perennial winner

Even as a junior in the University, Parial was already living the artist’s life.

Launching his first one-man show in 1965, he himself made the cocktails for the guests. As if it couldn’t get any worse, heavy rains marred the exhibit’s opening.

“The guest of honor did not come because of the rain. Only a few people did,” he said. But the poor turnout did not dampen his spirits.

The same year, “The Fire is Over” was cited first honorable mention in the sculpture category of the 15th Shell National Student Art Contest (SNSAC).

He also placed first for “The World is Over” was lauded as first honorable mention in the 15th Shell National Student Art Contest (SNSAC) in the sculpture category.

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He also placed first for “The World Has Many Faces” and received a certificate of merit for “Once Upon a Construction” and “Night flight” in the same art competition in 1966.

His opus “Flight in the Sun” placed first in the Art Association of the Philippines in Graphic Arts in 1966. The following year, he bagged the certificate of merit for “Hour after Hour” in the 17th SNSAC graphic arts category.

In 1967, he received the Benavides Award for Outstanding Performance to University Prestige.

He also joined the University’s Photo Contest in 1968 and won fourth prize.

A year after his graduation, he came back to the University and taught printmaking, freehand drawing, and photography in 1970.

The same year, he placed second in the Philippine Association of Print Makers (PAP) Annual Contest. In 1972, he received the Thirteen Artists Award of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Parial also bagged two prestigious awards in 1978: the Outstanding Thomasian Award and the Critic’s Choice Award of the then Mayi Gallery.

A proud Thomasian, Parial’s success is reinforced by his strong passion and dedication for the arts. For him, art is a lifetime commitment— an immediate force that pulls him back to his studio and paint with the colors of life.

“With my craft, I have no choice. Wherever I go, I always feel that I have to go back to my studio and paint,” he said.

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