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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Peque Gallaga - nifty shades of gray

BACOLOD’s very own multi-awarded filmmaker, actor, screenplaywright and production designer, Peque Gallaga, is about to show another facet of his brand of artistry: a solo exhibition of his own artworks.

Though Peque's international reputation is as the master of Philippine filmmaking, he's also an accomplished artist.

And his first solo art show, titled Gray Matters, opens at the Arte Verité Gallery, 2/F Serenda in Bonifacio Global City in Manila on April 18.

The "gray" in Peque's title refers to his chosen medium - the HB graphite pencil. The choice of medium may puzzle an audience more accustomed to materials such as oil, acrylic and watercolor. But no matter: graphite ideally serves his purpose, since his aim is the delineation of the human figure, and graphite pencil or charcoal is its primary instrument.

True to his calling, Peque “cast” his own subjects, and opted for ordinary people, mainly in their youth, from his native Negros. A few family members were enjoined to serve as models and to pose for the artist-director.

Peque's art is called cross hatching, an extension of hatching, which is the use of fine parallel lines drawn closely together, to create the illusion of shade or texture in a drawing.

Hatching originated in the Middle Ages and developed further into cross hatching, especially in the old masters prints of the 15th century. The technique was perfected by celebrated German artist Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528).

Fast forward to 500 years and today's cross hatching artists can now take advantage of computer technology, but Peque limits this to the initial photographs which he takes. After digitally manipulating the images, the real artistry begins - the imperceptible blending and cross hatching of tones which transform an otherwise flat surface into a volumetric illusion of reality.

And one can add the works are hewn from infinite patience.

Long before Peque ventured into the world of filmmaking, he hankered after a career as an artist. He studied painting in Manila under Manuel Rodriguez Sr. In the mid-1960s, he studied anatomical drawing in Madrid then back in Bacolod, he took classes under Rafael Paderna.

As Peque's filmmaking career took off, he had less time for his art, but dabbled whenever he had the opportunity. But when he first retired back to Bacolod in 2001, he threw himself into his art again studying at the LCC under Tony Tejado.

Peque says he owes Tony a great debt of gratitude as it was he who correctly identified the direction he should take with his art.

A labor of love is how Peque described getting ready for his first solo show. He said he'd love to show his work in Bacolod, and now he is planning to retire again back to City of Smiles away from the hustle, bustle and madness of Manila, who knows he might just have enough energy to do the whole thing all over again.

Gray Matters comprises 20 works. The show runs from April 18 to May 2.

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