Behind the beauty of once known “The Pearl of the Orient Seas” looms the image of a suffering Philippines. Behind the colorful faces of one of the happiest nations in the world, are the struggling stories of a people.
This is how acclaimed artist Nunelucio "Nune" Alvarado perceives the present condition of the Philippines and its people—a society where citizens have colorful yet superficial faces.
Alvarado depicts this reality in his more than 20 artworks currently on exhibit at the Kape Albarako along San Juan St. in Bacolod City. The exhibit, which was previously shown in Manila and Cebu, opened last week in Bacolod and will run until June 22.
Titled “Nawong ni Alvarado,” (‘Nawong’ is Hiliganon for ‘face’) the artworks are done mostly in pen, water color, and ink. Alvarado showcased colorful artworks, perhaps a new take on his style as he was more famously known for his stylized depiction of the dark side of humanity, particularly social oppression and sexual terror. (He is a member of the Black Artist of Asia).
"The colors show the positive side of us Pinoys especially Negrenses and Bacolodnons," Alvarado shares. “It is a projection of how optimistic and vibrant looking our faces are despite the worries, frustrations and downfall that we have.”
On the other hand, he tries to uncover these unwanted experiences behind the colorful images through the deformities he artistically included on each of the faces.
"We always strive to be beautiful and positive-looking but because of the many predicaments, undertakings, and problems brought about by environmental and other societal issues like poverty and violence, these beautiful faces eventually break out," he explains.
The deformed and distorted faces symbolize imperfection. He went on further by presenting a realistic and undesirable side of man: that behind our attractive physical attributes hide an ugly image of discontentment, wrongful desires, greed and cruelty.
"We are always striving to be beautiful, but no matter how good we are outside, our inner conscience would speak for our true colors," he said.
Through his artworks, Alvarado wants people to appreciate their strengths, but at the same time recognize and accept their weaknesses.*