Learn, paint, live

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Monday, January 27, 2014


EXACTLY a year ago, she was all out on her undergraduate thesis. Yet even with all the demands and stress that were “requisites” to graduation, she was also preparing for her first solo art exhibit.

Christine Cueto, a painting arts graduate of the University of San Carlos, admits that she was used to having her hands full.

“I’ve been so used to juggling between academics and extracurricular [actrivities] ever since I was a kid, so I guess I was just used to it,” she explained. “It wasn’t always easy, but I also had friends and family to help me out with a few things too.”

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Consider it another successful mission pulled off. She passed her thesis defense, graduated and chalked up her first exhibit. Christine’s exhibit, which was held in March last year, featured her works including those from her thesis. She described it as something “different” from most exhibits done by painting students since she melded a fashion show into it.

SWU Cobras down UV Lancers in Sinulog Cup
DOLLFACE. Cueto considers it as similar to her thesis works except that she stitched the strings on a photo instead of a canvas. (Contributed photo)

“My thesis was entitled ‘Rendering Fashion Photographs into Black and White Fashion Paintings With Neo-Expressionistic Qualities.’ I’d have photo shoots using pieces from Cebuano designers, both student and professionals, and I would render it as a black and white oil painting.

“The neo-expressionistic quality was the colorful string art I’d stitch on the canvas.

It was pretty much a combination of everything I love—fashion, photography, traditional art, neo-expressionism, black and white, and color,” she said.

“Traditional” is how Christine describes herself. She started out painting landscapes “with a more impressionistic feel.” But she later revealed that she has shifted her passion towards portraits.

“For me, my thesis pretty much showed that even in a time and place where contemporary art is more favored, I’d still love to have a traditional element to it,” she said.

Asked which person she would want to do a portrait of, she said it would be photographer Lara Jade, whom she looks up for inspiration. “I’d also want to do a portrait of Darth Vader,” she added.

Glancing at her works, one would notice the attempt at making something novel about the traditional by incorporating string art into them. These display neo-expressionism, as she had learned from artists Basquiat and Francis Bacon. Christine further explained that going along the neo-expressionist line affords her more freedom in terms of art media to be used. In most of her paintings though, she would use black and white to make the string art stand out.

In the exhibit, she displayed the photos she used as reference, which were the clothes themselves from the fashion show, and the translated representation, which were the paintings.

Although her current occupation (she works in as an associate in an advertising and design firm) is not directly related to the degree that she finished in college, Christine would always remember what one of her painting teachers said about painting as “the mother of arts” and that photography, advertising, and the like, are the applications of the concepts in painting.

“I think the most important thing (about pursuing a degree in painting arts) is the knowledge and appreciation of art. The course doesn’t just teach you how to sketch and paint. It also teaches you the history and theory behind the different art movements.

Because of that, you learn and understand more about the culture and how art is a reflection of a culture. It truly prepares you for a bright career in the arts,” Christine says about her college course.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 28, 2014.

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