Lydia Velasco and Alona Dela Cruz

28 May – 12 June 2021

Binhi, which is the vernacular word for seed, is the tandem exhibition of mother and daughter Lydia Velasco and Lon de Cruz, now on view at the Galerie Roberto. The title is symbolic in many ways, signifying the capacity for new life. As binhiis the fertilized, matured ovule of a flowering plant capable of germination, so does it allude to human life, the continuation of the next generation. As a verb, it is the action of sowing the land with seeds; or sowing the spirit with artistic fire. Thus, Binhibefits the phenomenon of an artistic dynasty such as that fostered by Lydia Velasco, now a septuagenarian but still actively engaged in the seeding of new life to her visual creations. Complex Identity Velasco, of course, is now known for her numerous and sustained depictions of what she beholds as the ideal Filipino woman. In her own determined way, she echoes what the late great Filipina artist Anita Magsaysay-Ho once said, related to her choice of woman as her main subject: “I am a woman, and I know what a woman feels.” Indeed, a fascinating study can be made by an art scholar between these two distinct visions of the Filipina. A more complex identity emerges from the women of Velasco for they are nearer the flesh-and-blood Filipina that, through her canvases, exude the qualities of physical strength embodied by the expressive exaggeration her limbs and extremities, as well as the surprising combination of sensuality and spirituality, and in her Mother and Child themes, the virtues of tenderness and caring, love and compassion Next Generation Being born to an accomplished artist with a sterling reputation for excellence can be the greatest hurdle that can be faced by the next generation. Exemplar of this situation is that of the late Malang who casts a long shadow of renown and who sired two sons who were determined to follow their father’s calling. Malang is quoted famously for his advice to Soler and Steve Santos. “Do not copy me. Find your own style.” That same sound advice is what Lydia Velasco has gone down to her daughters Chie and Lon, as well as to her own sisters Daisy Carlos and Tessie Picana. Moreover, it is an advice given to her grandchildren who are now themselves hearing the siren call of the muses. Alona, or Lon for short, efficiently stepped out of her mother’s shadow by the sheer expedient of exploring a different medium. As someone who has always enjoyed working with her hands and concrete materials, Lon works in collage. Though collage is now regarded as a basic exercise in art studies, it carries an illustrious origin. Invented by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque when they were working on Cubism, collage – from the French word coller, meaning “to glue” or “to paste” was the radical incursion of actual reality into the illusion on the canvas surface by pasting such objects as shreds of newspaper and cigarette labels. Iconic Masterworks Lon’s works are homages to certain iconic masterworks, namely Botticelli’s Venus, Vermeer’s The Girl with Pearl Earrings and Gustav Klimt’sAdele Bloch-Bauer. For this artist, the most daunting task is in the replication of famous visages instantly recognizable by the public. To actually capture the likeness of a human face, not through the traditional medium of oil or acrylic, but through mosaic-like pieces of a motley variety of found objects: therein lies the ultimate test of the artist’s skill and sensitivity. Without a doubt, Lon de Cruz has done a commendable job. As a show, Binhiis instructive and revelatory of the power and mystery of art to inexhaustibly regenerate itself into the future. All it needs is for the seed of art to be sown onto fertile land. The works of Lydia Velasco and Lon de Cruz attest to the intrinsic power of art to spark the next generation. Yes: it runs in the family. -CID REYES

Lydia Velasco for Galerie Roberto’s The Masters

Lon De Cruz full interview