LONDON-based Thomasian artist Yveese Belen makes art a means of healing and therapy to recover from grief over a personal loss in her sold-out exhibit, Love, Faith and Hope, which ran last December at Gallery Nine, SM Mega Mall, Mandaluyong City.

The Fine Arts almuna’s homecoming exhibit was her way of paying tribute to Romeo Forbes, who died of cancer in 2006 at the very young age of 25.

“Here Comes the Sun,” the first painting in the collecthion, shows Belen’s first encounter with Flores in the summer of 1998 at a basketball league. Both artists are portrayed with red hearts.

“Ang ibig sabihin ng pulang puso ay kahit wala na siya, buhay pa rin siya sa paintings ko,” Belen said.

Belen recounted how their love affair blossomed during their college years. Forbes, who won the Art Petron grand prize in 2001 while still studying fine arts at the University of the East, encouraged her to join painting contests. Finishing her own fine arts degree at UST, she followed and did his bidding and also won the grand prize in watercolor at Art Petron.

“Good Morning, Good Morning” is set in the University’s Benavides Park where Belen and Forbes participated in an on-the-spot painting contest.

In “With a Little Help from my Friends,” Belen is depicted in a Church praying for Forbes’ health.

After Forbes’ sudden death, Belen left for London. Unlike the previous paintings, she was portrayed with a black heart in “Sa Isip, sa Salita, at sa Gawa.”

The last painting showed seven years after Forbes’ death, when Belen finally fell in love with a college friend. “Yellow” conveyed light colors that show Belen has finally overcome her grief.

In this collection of paintings, Belen used her style of sgraffito by applying plaster and scratching the surface to produce an outline.

According to Belen, the paintings were titled from the songs of Beatles and Beach Boys because the lyrics matched the stories of each artwork.

Belen won Grand Prize in Art Petron in 2000 and honorable mention in 2003. She is also a recipient of the Benavidez Award for visual arts. Nikka Lavinia G. Valenzuela With Reports From Marianne S. Lastra And Alfredo N. Mendoza V

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