“Indi ko sapatos ang Art,tiil ko siya”
— Andrea Bagarinao
I often wonder how it is being an artist. How would it feel to hold a brush at the tip of your hands and paint with such graceful strokes, to create such musical harmony from the heart with a piano or violin, or to sing with so much emotional power?
It really astounds me to see diverse faces of art expressed with such subtleness. And that’s the reason why it really excites me to think of the moment that I myself would personally interview an artist. By fate, I was fortunate enough that for my Humanities 1 class, I have found for myself just the right artist to interview—Andrea Bagarinao, a third year BA Literature student of UP Visayas. I know she isn’t really that famous, but I believe in her artistic skills, being impressed by for her works at her young age. Anyway, before I forget, she’s actually a friend of my friend—which means that we weren’t really that close. So during my first interview with her, I was a bit shy for the first few minutes, but after that, everything just flowed freely and we had a great time getting to know more of each other.
The first thing that I asked her was to explain what art is to her. Interestingly, with such straightforwardness, she just replied “Indi ko sapatos ang art, tiil ko siya”(Art is not my shoes; it is my feet).
I was dumbfounded for a second. Such deep and vague statement has to be processed and interpreted as immediately as possible by my brain’s neurons. Having dug for its meaning between the lines, I now seem to understand and appreciate how much she puts importance to art. Something she would always consider a part of herself, her identity, her being and humanness—not just a mere separate entity with the option to possibly abandon it.
During the entire conversation, I was surprised to find out that both her parents have artistic backgrounds. Certainly it’s no wonder how Andrea got such a great genetic make-up. I also learned that although both of her parents are artists by heart—who later became her personal critiques—it was her Aunt Virgie who made a great impact on her artistic development.
Learning to use pencils and crayons at the age of three, Andrea’s artistic potential, in time, was enhanced through constant practice with her aunt. She then learned to appreciate sketching human forms. Hence, in her first two years at the Kinaadman Elementary School at Tigbauan, Iloilo, she made a compilation of her own short stories complete with illustrations. By third grade, she developed a central theme for her artworks—horror. Based on that theme, she created her first comic strip booklet entitled “Capiz Troubles.” In her fifth grade, having developed the love for Japanese anime—she started sketching a few of those “manga” series anime. Up to now, she still has that same strong passion for drawing human figures. In fact, as her major breakthrough, she made two key artworks; “Handumanan” in 2002 and “Mga___sang Ugsad” by 2005. From simple comics and “manga” Japanese series anime, she then learned water color techniques and eventually mural painting from her secondary education at the Special Arts Program of the Iloilo National High School. Through constant practice and mentoring by their artist-teachers in high school, her innate artistic skills were fully developed.
As part of her thesis production entitled “Pinta-Sulat-Bata”, she produced in 2005, three major artworks in polychrome: “The Laborer”, “The Unemployed”, and “The Tenant Farmer” which earned her major awards from INHS. Eventually, these outstanding works were exhibited at SEAFDEC’s Fish World Museum in Tigbauan, Iloilo.
In 2006, that same museum commissioned Andrea to do a mural painting. Andrea came up with “Sinabawan.” Just early this year, the same museum hired her to do another mural on fishes.
To personally witness this obra maestra, I went to the Fish World museum. Coming face to face with Andrea’s work, I was certainly struck by such awesome beauty. It was such a huge mural painting that I couldn’t make it fit into my camera’s frame. So, I just focused on the details.
Much to my surprise, I realized that indeed it is true that her artworks don’t contain any blue or gray hues. As I toured the museum, I found out that her past water color paintings have been replicated on t-shirts. One design shows a strong Japanese and Chinese influence, a manifestation of her passion for anime art.
I left the museum aesthetically satisfied and promising myself that I would come back.
Aside from painting, drawing and writing short illustrated stories, Andrea is also a stern environmental advocate. She loves to be with nature (although she rarely does landscapes) and cares a lot for animals including the much-feared snake. Don’t think however that she is an eccentric teenager for she also loves to do things typical teenagers do, such as singing, dancing, watching TV, and (interestingly) acting.
Asked about her favorite visual artist, Andrea admires Zeshin, whose techniques she wants to adapt, as well as Manga artists. At present she likes . simply replies “Zeshin…siya ang may techniques na gusto ko guid i-adapt…mga manga artist pa guid! Subong sila Watsuki(Rkenshin) kag Arakawa(Hagaren)—story and graphics”. (Zeshin…he has the techniques I really want to adapt…and also Japanese “manga” artists. Presently, I like Watsuki(Rkenshin) and Arakawa(Hagaren)—story and graphics.)
Calling her work as “chiaroscuro- paired- with- Chinese luminescence,” Andrea plays most of the time with dark and light effects, a technique she learned in high school which she then combines with her own innovations.
Perhaps, it may not be Andrea’s perfect time to shine yet but definitely—with her passion, ideas, and skills —she will get there. Andrea Bagarinao , a budding Ilongga visual artist.
*Diana Mae R. Bebelone is a third year Political Science student at the University of the Philippines in the Visayas. She loves writing melodramatic poems and she optimistically hopes to be a musical artist someday.