September 16 – 29, 2008
2nd Level Dela Rosa St. corner Makati Avenue
Makati City, Philippines

Womanpower through metal works

By A. San Agustin

WAY BACK  in 1986 – that historic year  –  Daniel A. dela Cruz  was a college sophomore at  the University of  the Philippines and, being attracted  to  visual art, was creating clay figurines as a hobby.  These soon attracted the attention of journalist Cory Aquino Quirino, who featured the budding artist  and  his  works  in a  major  Sunday supplement.

          That initial exposure brought him to the attention of exporters, and  before he knew  it, the  undergraduate was turning out more products, based on his own designs, for these companies which exported the figurines to the US and Europe and the rest of the world..

           Upon graduating, dela Cruz became a full- time  product designer, first  working in  a  company  and  then striking out on his own. He became very successful in this field, and remains a consultant for several firms here and abroad.

          Dela Cruz did not feel fulfilled, however. “I was always designing for what the client needed, for what  they could market, “he says. “Now I wanted to express myself, to create works that would appeal to me.”

          After he turned 40 late last year, dela Cruz  opted  for  a  more  serious  art.  The  result  is  “Kandungan:  A Tribute to Women in Our Lives,” a one-man  sculptural  show  to open at  the  Ayala  Museum  (2nd Floor,  Glass Wing) on July 24  (6: 30 pm). Guest of  honor is Sen. Loren  Legarda,  Architect Lor  Calma  and  National  Artist Arturo Luz. The exhibit will run until Aug. 6.

         On view are striking works hand – carved and hand – formed from brass, copper and lead. As the title indicates, they are all women, alone but at times in twos or threes and always radiating strength. They are goddesses, angels, and “ordinary” women merged into objects to become musical instruments, rocking chairs, benches and vessels (which may carry life- giving water.)

The female forms are generously proportioned, giving them a no-nonsense yet loving air.

The titles of the pieces hint at what the artist is trying to convey: “Haplos” (gentle touch), “Kalinga “ (protection), “Bighani” (charm), “Aruga” (caring), and the title piece “Kandungan” (the mother’s lap as resting place for the child). “Talikop”, with the vessel as symbol, suggests depth of emotion, a lot of love.

The women are not averse to gossip, or perhaps they are just whispering or communicating with each other. As depicted in “Bulungan”, “Salinlahi”, and “Unawaan”.

“Bigkis” is allegorical, with the three women, as the artist points out, representing Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. There is strength if the three unite. In this work, “Luz”, “Vi” and “Minda” join hands and together they venture outward towards progress and the future.

There are angels who signify peace, protection and redemption. Creativity and the power of music are exemplified in the forms of women who become one with the instruments they are playing, like the grand piano, cello and harp.

In “Haplos,” the strings of the cello intertwine with the musician’s ornate strands of hair, her body the cello itself.

“My main inspirations are the women around me,” concludes dela Cuz. “This is how I know women, how I respect and admire them. I did not want to depict them as frail or as sexual objects. I wanted to express their strength and their character.”©  

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