By SARA GRACE FOJAS
Portrait by PINGGOT ZULETA
With a stroke on the canvas using his favorite Filbert brush at his makeshift studio, visual artist Gerrico Blanco takes his audience inside a child’s dream. You’ll see real-life images of horses, elephants, tigers, and clowns running out of a box just like in your wildest imagination. You’ll find a beautiful juggler playing with your heart, time, and mind. It will be just like in a circus, but this circus has a message for you.
“Everything starts with an idea or a message I want to convey to my audience Sometimes it would be just an interesting idea popping into my head and inspiring me,” says Gerrico. “Once my idea is definite, I sketch it on paper. Then, since my style requires me to represent the subject(s) as real as possible, I need to photograph models under proper lighting and in costume. Now, I will enhance the sketch and the photograph in my computer. I will sketch the digital study using my base ‘imprimatura’ or an initial stain of color on the canvas. Then, I would start to put the colors and apply the Grisaille technique.”
His beautiful ideas of a circus came from his yearly trips to different amusement parks with his son Gavin. He was able to create 15 artworks for his recently concluded exhibit, “Mesmerized,” at Galerie Francesca at the Festival Mall in Alabang.
“I think both kids and adults enjoy the circus. There are different kinds of entertainment, from carnival rides to performers and trained animals. These trips with my son got me inspired to create my paintings for my third solo show,” he says. “It was a bit challenging because, unlike my two previous shows, this one has a theme. I was able to create 15 artworks (10 pieces of oil on canvas and five pieces of wash pen and ink on paper) with the circus as theme.”
His piece Memories will bring back happy childhood spent at a circus. Moving Forward will encourage you to stand strong and go on no matter what life throws at you. Where To, on the other hand, pictures a hooded figure riding a unicycle to represent an individual balancing life’s circumstances with his choices.
“I think my art has evolved based on what is happening in our world and in the art industry,” Gerrico says. “In this day and age, it is important to evolve as an artist and to constantly learn about your style, medium, and concept. But, personally, I’ve always wanted my artworks to have meaning and to communicate to their audience.”
His interest in art started at the young age of three when he began drawing superheroes. His interest and talent were nourished and molded at the University of Santo Tomas where he earned a degree in fine arts, majoring in painting. There, he was mentored by his professor in composition and life drawing Antonio Austria.
At home, he was taught by his visual artist uncles Magoo Valencia, who specializes in watercolor, and Frank Cana Valencia, who trained him in graphic design and layout. He also got inspirations from contemporary Filipino artist Ronald Ventura, who was also one of his professors, and Alfredo Esquillo. He always liked the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Norman Rockwell, Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, and Robin Elley.
“My style is surrealism. I put a twist and add elements that will make the subject more dreamlike, like it’s inside a child’s dream,” Gerrico says. “Most of my recent artworks have a wavy and dreamy effect in the background. I just paint whatever comes to mind and make my subjects adapt to the times. I hope I can have my fourth solo show by 2021. I already have an idea in mind, and I hope it will turn out okay.”
He says that, aside from sharing his masterpiece to the world, it has always been his dream to have a studio of his own.
“Currently, I paint at the garage of our house,” Gerrico says. “I have two easels, both custommade by my father—one is a regular easel and the other one is an adjustable easel that is best for diamond-shaped canvases or composition. I am also very obsessive-compulsive with my brushes. I want them to perfectly fit with the stroke I want for my artwork. I always get excited every time I have a new set of quality brushes.”
Then Gerrico gets his detail brush to put finishing touches on another painting.
Just like that, he creates magic again.