THE FAITHFUL found an alternative form of meditation during the Lenten season at the ninth installment of Kristo Manila as it included cultural immersion.

Held at the Art Center of Megamall in Mandaluyong City last April 16 to 29, this year’s exhibit celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ with the theme “A Heritage of Art in Faith.” Delan Robillos, Artery Manila, a literary arts and visual group based in Malate, was organizer and curator.

Among the 107 artists who participated in the exhibit were UST alumni—artists Wilfredo Offemaria, Jr., Salvador Ching, Thomas Daquioag, Pinggot Zulueta, Manuel Baldemor, and Maria Magdamit, journalist-editor Volt Contreras, physician Dr. Dante Lerma, and London-based artist Yveese Belen.

Robillos, vice-head of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ (NCCA) National Committee on Art Galleries, said his ocular inspections on damaged cultural heritage sites inspired him to incorporate cultural heritage into this year’s exhibit.

“It became an eye-opener for me,” Robillos said. “[I] realized, since Kristo Manila has become a tradition for us, and other artists have been joining, why not introduce Kristo Manila exhibitions as an alternative form of cultural immersion as well?”

According to Robillos, participating artists have been rendering images of the Crucifixion, regardless of the theme, for the past years. This inspired the idea of zeroing-in on Jesus Christ’s resurrection using verses from St. Paul’s letters as guide.

“This is not to disregard the Crucifixion,” Robillos said. “[B]ut after Yolanda, we just wanted to encourage the artists to draw or paint uplifting images of hope.”

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Belen’s “Redeem” portrayed a heart-shaped tree formed by figures of people, some of them still standing beneath its branches, waiting to be pulled up. The acrylic on canvas was depicted in hues of red.

“I used red hues because I wanted to depict Christ’s suffering even though the theme is about His resurrection,” Belen said. “It’s like the intensity of the color coincides with the heart-shaped tree formed by my little figures.”

Daquioag’s oil-on-canvas “Sagrada” shows a surreal-looking Jesus in white, with only his lower face visible as he stretches his stigmata-injured hands while his heart is in plain view, emanating light and fire despite being enclosed in a ring of thorns.

A dove, which had damaged wings with blotches of red-orange and tangles of white ribbon-like feathers and tail absent with a mix of colors overwhelmed by a forlorn shade of grey as background was Offemaria’s subject in “The Messenger.”

Inspired by Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt, Lerma’s “A Promise Kept” is an image of an angel donning a colorful robe in dominant shades of red, gold, and blue with symbols like the alpha and omega are etched into his clothing. A dove is perched atop his left hand while the angel bows his head with his eyes closed, his wings outstretched and a golden halo on his head. The dove represents the Paraclete in reference to Jesus' promise that “He will not leave His disciples orphaned.”

“I chose to depict an angel which actually was the first being they encountered when the holy women went to the tomb to anoint the dead body of Jesus,” Lerma said. “It was an angel who announced that the resurrection had indeed taken place.”

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For the first time, the exhibit is on a longer run, from May 12 to 31, at the NCCA Gallery to celebrate the National Heritage Month of May and the Subcommission for Cultural Heritage’s Pamanang Pinoy: TAOID 2014 Heritage Program launch.

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