An afternoon with Adeste-A A +A
Monday, September 10, 2012
THE AIR was thick, and the sky was in a shade so drab and dull—signs pointing that a downpour was on its way.
Stepping into his studio was a comfort, not because it provided cover, but because of how much of it was a contrast to the dreary tone outside.
As expected of an artist’s home, huge paintings adorn the walls, like the portrait of his lovely wife and some scenic shots from one of his travels.
Brushes, sketch pads, books and art magazines lay around; then on the side, a highlight in itself, is an old record player—one that’s actually functioning.
What was originally planned as a simple meeting over lunch grew into an afternoon filled with music, art and random chitchat: from talking about his childhood spent in Isabela, Basilan, to famous movie quotes, to Carly Simon’s rendition of Itsy Bitsy Spider. Soft-spoken and reserved he may seem to be, visual artist Adeste Deguilmo certainly had a lot to share.
Adeste’s work had been recognized locally and abroad, having won several competitions, such as the Philippines’ Centennial National Mural Contest, Letras Y Figuras Art Competition, International Artist’s Painting Contest and many more.
Quite recently, he also bagged the grand prize in the figurative abstraction category of Cebu’s first national painting competition “Way of Life.”
Many people, according to Adeste, were surprised when they found out he won in that category, even more so of the fact that he actually joined it. He has always been known in the art scene as a “traditionalist,” and so as he dabbled in a new field, many of his colleagues as well as art buffs were bewildered.
“Gituyo gyud nako,” he explained. “It was really my intention to shift to this category; going into figurative art is part of my evolution as an artist.”
He may have tried his hand in a different mode of creative expression, yet the qualities of what makes the image distinctly his are still there; the refined strokes and the exquisite blend of hues remain apparent.
Titled “Pagbigay Galang,” his winning piece is a monochromatic scene that emphasizes on the mano po, an act of respect shown to elders in Filipino society. The work is part of Adeste’s “Dama” series, wherein the subjects are depicted to be engrossed in the traditional board game, an act evident in Filipino society as well.
Adeste’s love for art began at the age of three when he would steal coloring materials from the store his family used to run in Isabela. He would grab a whole bunch of crayons and then he would doodle endlessly on their house’s floor.
As he got older, he would then join his neighbor who used to paint movie posters at the local theater. It was there that Adeste was first exposed to the joys of creating images with a dab of a brush.
He eventually enrolled in the fine arts program of the University of the Philippines Cebu, where he was under the tutelage of the late Martino Abellana. Adeste had a brief career in advertising after that, and it was in 1995 when he finally decided to focus solely on his craft. Since then, he has staged several solo exhibits, won in competitions, and had even participated in a cultural grant in Vienna, Austria, in 2000.
It is not only in visual art though that Adeste seems to have a knack for. A lover of music as well, Adeste simply beamed with enthusiasm as he showed his impressive old-school LP records collection and his ukulele, which he says he always brings with him when he travels. Without much of a hesitation, he even performed a Hawaiian song that got everyone in the room humming along.
As it began to drizzle outside, a sense of warmth was felt within the four walls of that cozy, little studio. Surrounded by colors and melodies, surely there was no better place to get lost in on a rainy afternoon.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 11, 2012.