Hope you're all doing fine.
Have you heard of Jana Benitez? She's a US-based Filipino artist who made her debut at the young age of 12 and had her first exhibit at Ayala Museum. She grew up in Manhattan's Upper East Side, not surprising being the daughter of Jose Conrado Benitez, president of PWU and Joanne De Asis, a New York investment banker. She's an alumna of Brown, a prestigious Ivy League university, she graduated Magna Cum Laude in Visual Arts. She's been to Chile, France, China and New Zealand to name a few. And now she's back in the Philippines to display her new work entitled "Life Force."
Photo By: Nelson Matawaran
I used a complimentary ticket given by the museum during my storytelling stint last year. For those of you wondering where Ayala Museum is, it's just beside Greenbelt 5 in Makati. Unfortunately, she was not there when I visited the exhibit (and that's why I had to borrow a picture of her).
The exhibit was located on the first floor and I was greeted by a giant painting, a preview of what was to come behind the white walls.
For me, her works displayed raw energy. Behind the clashes of sweeps and lashes, underneath the warm hues of reds, yellows and oranges and dabs of blues, it seems that life is struggling to break free.
And though it seems her strokes seem endless and vague, pay attention to the details and the substance comes forth. I was in awe on how she was able to channel that restless vigor and feed it relentlessly to her canvas.
Despite the rough texture and smooth angles, faces and figures pop up even as the daubs of colors try to drown it.
Aside from her paintings, Jana Benitez wrote messages on the white walls in between her canvasses (guess you can get away with it if you're a talented artist. I remember when I wrote on the walls of our house. lol). She scribbled her thoughts regarding existence and emotions. Some of them made me think about life in general, how emotions set the gears of living to motion.
During an interview, she said:
“Most people tend to shy away from the depth and breath of feeling. We are open to emotions that we enjoy, like happiness and love. But we avoid loss, abandonment, fear, panic and anxiety. Painting allows me to really plunge into the heart of everyday life. The prospect of new experiences and emotions stimulates me. The intensity comes from getting right there and wrestling with the difficult stuff. Fear is excitement. Painting helps me face it.”
It was an inspiring experience. I believe paintings should evoke feelings from the person gazing at it. And it did just that for me. Our world is our canvas and we should paint it with life.
Til the next post,