FOR THOSE who speak the language of the brush and canvas, this Lenten season was all about offering the fruits of their talents to the true Master, so visual artists in Manila and Bulacan took part in the annual Kristo exhibit, a show of various works that interpret the passion of the Christ.

In Kristo Manila, 39 works were on show, to the number of the paintings matched the number of lashes Jesus endured at His scourging at the pillar. Meanwhile, 64 artists participated in Kristo’s Bulacan. Both shows took the theme, Offering (Alay). “Offering” was on view at the Looking for Juan Gallery in Serendra, Bonifacio Global City from April 11-30. Alumni who participated in the exhibit were Anna de Leon, Anton Balao, Architect Jomike Tejido, physician Dr. Dante Lerma, London-based Yveese Belen, and Singapore-based artist Wilfredo Offemaria, Jr. Kristo pioneer Salvador Ching, a Thomasian, also participated.

Lerma’s “Revelation” depicts a surreal scene inspired by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio’s “Incredulity of Saint Thomas,” which illustrates the skeptical Thomas, the apostle, placing his finger inside the resurrected Christ’s flesh while other apostles are dumbfounded.

Lerma’s interpretation shows the scene partially clothed with bright, crumpled paper, which is tied with a thin rope, allowing viewers only a glimpse of the artwork, and giving the impression that the work is half-opened.

“The artwork embodies the Gospel and the crumpled paper is an allusion to the rough times it had gone through when it attempted to reveal Christ’s divinity to people who did not share the same belief,” Lerma said.

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Offemaria shows the Savior in a modern light in “Corporate Christ,” featuring a cartoon version of Christ in crisp formal wear seated on a throne with a dignified expression on his face.

The painting’s contemporary look is complemented by the gold outline and a bold-faced letter “K” at the top-most left corner, reminiscent of a playing card.

Marc Arcamo’s “Blessed,” this year’s Kristo Manila poster image, is a portrait of Jesus Christ reminiscent of vector graphics, which uses simple geometrical elements to create or represent images executed in cement.

Meanwhile, Ching’s “Katawan at Dugo” presents Christ’s scarlet face locked in a daze. It is painted in a pop-art manner set against a monochromatic background on denim, the artist’s signature canvas alternative.

Jesus’ face stands out as it is imposed on a human head draped with cloth and crowned with leaves and thorny vines, offering a surrealist take on how Christ suffered to save mankind from sin.

Ching, who majored in Painting at the old College of Architecture and Fine Arts, started mounting the Kristo exhibit in 2001 as part of his yearly “panata” (devotion) in his hometown in Malolos, Bulacan. It was Delan Robillos of Malate-based art and literary group Artery Manila who brought Kristo Malolos to Manila in 2005.

In this year’s Kristo, art and literary group Artery Manila worked hand in hand with the Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development (CANVAS) to raise funds for the Global Giving Foundation. Proceeds would go to provide books for 3,000 children in public schools and children’s hospitals.

“This is our way of using our talent to pay tribute to the true Master,” Ching said. “Through the years, even non-Catholics have joined the annual exhibits with their own interpretations of the life and passion of Jesus Christ.”

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