This is really just a way for me to keep track of a series of new work that I started in June 2020. The idea behind has moved on and I decided to start a journal to keep track of it.
In the back of my mind for several months was the seed of an idea of doing a series of works related to saints inspired by the Baroque period. This sprouted from a couple of trips to Spain – Seville and Valencia – and visits to museums where portraits of saints from the 15th through to the Renaissance and Baroque periods feature heavily. I was very taken with the use of dramatic darks and lights in the depiction of divine beauty, glory and pathos in the portraits of martyrs where the bloody injury and sometimes instruments of torture were involved. The colour palette used incredibly deep darks in contrast with brilliant jewel tones and thickly applied whites.
I also loved the religious wall tile panels outside various buildings depicting the Virgin Mary – some blue and white, others in bright colours. The expressive hands and facial expressions are wonderful and to me a reminder of growing up in a country where recitation of the rosary was televised during Lent and stories of saints sat side by side books of fairy tales.
The protests last year got me thinking about the saints again this time in the context of colonization (of the Philippines – where I am originally from). Historically the saints replaced the local deities/ancestors of indigenous worship and the suffering of the saints was something the Catholicized Filipinos identified with their own struggles and used to empower them against their oppressors.
There are also the memories of impressions I had when i was young – in my imagination the lives of saints inhabited the same dark magical world as Hans Christian Andersen’s stories.