WHILE others chant the Pasyon or flagellate themselves to mark Lent, 65 artists interpret the suffering Christ through paint and palette.

Tackling the theme “Into Thy Hands,” the exhibit was featured in two separate displays at the 1/Of Gallery in Serendra, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City and at the Choice Expression Gallery in Makati City.

A brainchild of painter and UST College of Fine Arts and Design (CFAD) alumnus Salvador Ching, the exhibit was originally called Kristo when it was first launched in Malolos, Bulacan in 2002. Delan Robillos, managing director of the Artery Manila, an artist management group, learned about Kristo in 2004, and suggested it be brought to Manila. Artery Manila, with Ching, presented the art show as the Kristo-Manila exhibit a year after. Mounted on 12-by-14-inch canvases, the artworks presented interpretations about the various aspects of Christ’s torment, using several artistic styles ranging from abstraction to surrealism. The exhibit also featured works of non-Catholic artists.

“Only a few artists take part in an exhibit especially when the theme is religious,” Robillos said. “However, this year’s event surprisingly gathered more artists than the previous years.”

Thomasian versions of Christ

Out of the 65 participants, 17 artists were Thomasians such as Anton Balao and Julio Austria, who both contributed artworks which are fauvism-inspired in their use of vibrant colors. Austria’s “His Way to Mt. Calvary” shows a colorful rendition of Christ while carrying his cross. Austria made use of white acrylic to create a slightly stooped Christ, black paint to form the cross Christ is carrying, and subtle shades of green to form the backdrop. Balao used red and black in mixed media to come up with an illustration of Christ’s sacred heart in vibrant touch of red, which appears to be bleeding in sorrow. Placed at the center, the heart is primarily made of a vibrant touch of red.

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Art Bermido’s abstract, “13th Station,” depicts Christ’s seemingly painful removal from the cross. Bermido used oil pigment with the canvas entirely covered with red and stained intentionally in small portions with black. Meanwhile, Jeps Belen’s “Jesus of Nazareth” embodies the purity and passion of Christ, through the artist’s use of earth colors such as white, brown and green and the classic representation of Christ’s blood through stains of red.

Using oil as medium, Brenda Praico interpreted Christ as a “Black Sheep” crowned with thorns. The surreal rendition seems to evoke quiet anxiety as seen through the blood-stained white wool of the sheep. The sheep symbolizes Christ, and the bloodstains depict the sins of humanity.

CFAD professor Buen Calubayan and this year’s Kristo-Manila assistant curator, “Temporary Pain,” featured grotesque surrealism. A part of the oil on canvas is damaged, specifically the mouth part of the image of Christ, perhaps indicating Christ’s inability to convey his message as his teachings seem to have fallen on the deaf ears.

Another CFAD professor, Jaime Pacena, sets off two pages of the Bible enclosed in a plastic embedded with a picture of Mary in “Suffocation”. The artwork shows how the Virgin Mary was throttled by the terrible sufferings of her son.

“Temple1” by Mark Magistrado, a member of the Young Thomasian Artists Circle, depicts the side view of the face of a somber old man inside a temple. The painting indicates the modesty of people in honoring the commemoration of Christ’s passion.

Other Thomasians who participated in Kristo-Manila were Danny Santiago, Dante Lerma, Fil Dela Cruz, Lindsay James Lee, Melvin Culaba, Noel Catacutan, and Wilfredo Offemaria.The artists said they made the artworks also as a thanksgiving. “This is our form of tribute to God for the talents He has blessed us,” Ching said. “This exhibit is the best way for artists to reflect and meditate during Lent,” Robillos explained.

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Part of the exhibit’s proceeds will go to A Better Chance Foundation, which provides scholarships for the poor. Maria Aurora F. Mon

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