Salvador: Villegas’ forest images

Arnel Villegas and his Forest Images. (Photo by Jinggoy I. Salvador)
Arnel Villegas and his Forest Images. (Photo by Jinggoy I. Salvador)

BEFORE Arnel Villegas created black and white images on paper with a technical pen, he was already doing so with a camera. Through the lens, the photographer captured striking images of the everyday life across Davao: scenes at the barbershop, vendors on the street, a busy thoroughfare, public market, and many more. These black and white images were recently exhibited in a downtown gallery.

His other black and white medium is the pen and ink. My first encounter with the artist’s works was more than a decade ago. Small works sized 3 inches square dominated the gallery walls. His subject was nature. Trees, shrubs, garden foliage, forest images were interpreted using small circular strokes of the technical pen, the drawing implement of architects and engineers. The images the artist created were serene, devoid of colors yet captures the depth of each scene.

Like any small works, one has to own several for grouping. That creates an impact on the viewer. So, I acquired four. To this day I have these artworks but had them reframed from four separate frames to a single frame. This is what the Arnel did on his ongoing exhibit that will run until October 30 at the Abreeza Mall. Forest Images 5 is the artists’ 15th solo exhibit and displays 75 pen and ink images framed singly or grouped to form 39 frames.

That artist states, “Forest Images echo the intricacies of the gifts of nature that transcend color. It bestows a vision of serenity, a communion of the soul with nature. It’s an invitation to preserve what is left of our vanishing forests, mountains, rivers and streams.”

Like the first works I acquired from this artist, I gravitated towards the pieces that held his original strokes, those with the finely executed elements. There’s a couple of frames I’m eyeing.

It’s good to see the artist composing a new series of works in pen and ink. With the booming art scene in Davao, I know we will be seeing more of his style in the future exhibits.


Forest Images 5 exhibit will run until October 30 at the 3rd floor of Abreeza Mall.

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