By SARA GRACE C. FOJAS
Images by NOEL PABALETE
Start the year with a bang, as the saying goes. And that’s what Manila Bulletin Lifestyle’s resident photographer and artist Pinggot Zulueta did. He opened the year with “Melankolia,” a collection of his black-and-white drawings, an expression of his “complex and intense emotions.” His 21-piece exhibit, currently displayed at The Saturday Gallery of EDSA Shangri-la Mall until Jan. 31, represents memories and imaginings of distant places.
“It’s a contemplative body of works that is meant to be introspective and uplifting. ‘Melankolia’ is not just my story, it is also yours. It is about finding a connection with our inner selves and with others. It is about coming to terms with the struggles and difficulties we experience in life,” says Pinggot. “We all have moments when we experience sadness and futility—to acknowledge this and understand that other people might be going through similar struggles is something art can help us with. Melancholia in art is a mature emotion in which reflections calm a turbulent soul.”
The exhibit is a follow through on the melancholic temperament of the artist’s earlier exhibits, “Incepto” in 2016” and “Katharsis” in 2017. It is a collection of various elements ranging from hearts to vultures to moons and inner organs, even including the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and Belgian artist Rene Magritte. His Haunted Heart displays how the heart takes over the body, with an eye that sees only what it wants. On the other side of the room is the same heart, The Heart that Rules the Head, but this time the heart is already wrapped in thorns. But in The Wedding (Homage to Frida Kahlo and Magritte), two hearts are connected with these pains and thorns, and that makes them one—one with the struggles and fullness of life.
“Although my art has relative insignificance to the bigger issues of today, its theme ‘Melankolia’ may resonate more profoundly,” Pinggot says. “Life is complex, full of constant change no matter how we control it. There are times life tears us down, then we rebuild, and move forward. My heart goes to all those affected by the Taal Volcano eruption, and the many others in our country who continue to suffer from poverty, exclusion, and injustice. I continue to have faith in the Filipino spirit—and that we are capable of perseverance in the face of adversity. It is imperative that we maintain hope even when the harshness of our reality may suggest the opposite. Together we can create positive energies based on positive feelings of appreciation, gratitude, and compassion. I hope that this exhibition can be anchor for self-reflection and expression.”
All of these humble masterpieces are created with pen and ink on paper, with some spilled with a splash of coffee. The effect may be a little morbid at first, in every small and intricate detail. Yet as you go through the collection and reflect, you’ll find that life indeed is full of change, and in the end all we want is peace. Pinggot, in his years of creating art, has become one of the most recognized artists in the country. He has a gift of being out of this world, with a unique imagination that makes his art extraordinary. He’s not afraid to use different mediums from oil paint to found objects to words, and now back to the basic pen and paper. That makes him unique.
But more than his art, Pinggot never fails to recognize the work of his fellow artists. He created a book Filipino Artists in their Studios Volumes I and II, a collection of the artists’ stories, with their respective art works and photographs, in cooperation with the Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation.
“I am an artist because it is simply what I need to do and what I do best. Emotion equals art, the brush on the canvas expresses my emotions,” Pinggot says. “It is my wish you would dwell in the stillness of each of the drawings and reflect on their meanings long after this exhibit is over. And I hope that you will find that the underlying message in all of the works is our collective ‘oneness.’”
‘Melankolia’ runs until Jan. 31 at The Saturday Group Gallery, Shangri-La Plaza, EDSA, Mandaluyong City.