Lydia Velasco dances with women
By Abigail B. Ramirez
“La Danse,” Lydia Velasco’s 9th one-woman show opens on January 25, 2006, Wednesday at 7:00pm, at The Centre Gallery located at the ground floor of Galerie Joaquin Main in San Juan. Known for women as her main subject, the artist showcases in this unique exhibition the development of her style from 1992, when she started painting, to the present time. Highly decorative and contemporary at the same time, the 35 figurative artworks in oil, acrylic and watercolor, at once celebrate femininity and womanhood, punctuated by the artist’s desire to strengthen society’s view of women.
“Sensual, religious, motherly: the essence of a woman,” is how the 63-year old artist describes her creations. Characterized by massive bodies, soft facial features, and huge bosoms, Velasco’s luscious-lipped subjects with rather knowing glances are a portrayal of natural grace and inner strength.
Her two masterly paintings, “The Dance I” and “The Dance II”, both 40” x 40” acrylics on canvas, are vivid images of allure and self-expression. Self-possessed and holding assertive hand gestures, these women transmit energy to the viewer and a sense of wanting to have a voice in controlling one’s world and one’s destiny.
Atmospheric and cloudlike, the garment crawls around each dancer’s sensitive body parts, while their entire being glows, providing an impression of mysticism and power. The bold and vigorous brushstrokes of blue, white, red and black achieve dynamism in the painting, and fluidity in the dance suggesting absolute freedom.
Two of the many delightful acrylic works are the 48” x 24” Calla Lily I and Calla Lily II (Nude Series) diptych which reminds one of the folk story of the creation of woman. The first panel is a blown-up calla lily, its white velvet petals almost consuming the entire canvas, with a yellow stamen highlighting the composition. The second panel becomes the visual metaphor when the stamen of the flower transforms into a curvaceous yellow-skinned woman with fiery-red hair, her backside fronting the viewer, as she blooms into full womanhood.
Velasco first explored painting through faceless figures with rigid torsos and poses in 1992. Muted and monochromatic in approach, they are the reflections of the artist’s soul seeking its identity in the art world.
The sufferings, difficulties and hardships she went through, and the double standard issues that women face in a patriarchal society, fuelled her rage to define and help liberate women through her art. Soon enough, her canvases began conceiving voluptuous women with ripe-mango complexion and intense hues of free flowing motions.
To be an artist has always been Velasco’s parents dream for her. Passionate about art as far as she can remember, she took her father as her idol who was a set designer and stage painter at LVN Productions. She remained a constant winner in art competitions in elementary and high school while she helped his father make ends meet by selling fishes in Navotas where her family lived.
She took Advertising at the University of Sto.Tomas, College of Fine Arts,then worked at Philprom in 1962. Her art directors turned out to be H.R. Ocampo and Cesar Legazpi, who are both National Artists now. As part of H.R. Ocampo’s creative team who made storyboards for soap commercials, she dexterously showed the different facets of women even then: “…babaeng malalandi, tumatawa, umiirap…,” the artist shared.
Coming from a humble background, and working in male-dominated advertising field, Velasco experienced the constant need to be taken seriously and be respected in her chosen profession and as a woman. She proved herself and fought back by delivering excellence in any of the projects she undertook.
She remained an artist at Philprom for 10 years and finally became an art director in ad agencies such as DYR, J. Walter Thompson, Pacific Ads, Ace Compton (Ace Saatchi), Basic Advertising, and McCaan-Erickson. She left McCaan-Erickson in 1988 and opened Lightmoves Photography and Design with a business partner.
At present, Velasco is the current President of Kulay Marikina Group of Artists, and a member of the Saturday Group of Artists and the Art Association Philippines. She has participated in numerous group shows since 1993 and started her solo exhibitions in 1996.
Looking back over a 13-year career period, Velasco is aware that she has gone a long way and is truly grateful and humbled of the blessings she has received through her art. A portrait of self-actualization, she feels a deep sense of fulfillment whenever she can help her family and siblings, extend support to young aspiring artists, while working on her paintings of women as they continuously evolve in surprising ways. The essence of a woman is indeed the stuff that Lydia Velasco herself is made of.
The exhibit runs until February 8, 2006. The Center Gallery-Galerie Joaquin Main is located at 371 P.Guevarra St., corner Montessori Lane, Bgy. Addition Hills, San Juan, Metro Manila. For info, call 723-9253 or visit www.galeriejoaquin.com.
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