Camille’s Chalice of Evolution, Revolution: From impressionism to surrealism

In Reviews on June 13, 2009 at 4:47 pm

By Noel Sales Barcelona

Camille Dela Rosa’s complete departure from landscapes and gardens, those who are considered the natural, the beautiful is quite impressive.

Ms. Camille Jean Verdelaire D. Dela Rosa is now trying to swim into the ocean of the surreal, the morbid, the mechanical, the unknown and her cruising can be said, quite smoothly; as if the 26-year old artist had already mastered how to pilot her boat without the compass, only looking at the constellations and the moon and the planets, as her guide.

She said, she just put parts of the human body, the beasts on the ground and underwater, birds flying on the air, and other elements of the “not-so-beautiful” on the immaculate white canvass, and the philosophical pieces of artworks are born.

Portrait of Anatomy- Charcoal on Paper

Portrait of Anatomy- Charcoal on Paper

It is undeniable, the surrealist arts and literature was born during the time of chaos, at the time of the destructive world wars.

It flourished in Europe between World Wars I and II, and principally grew out of the earlie Dada movement, which before the World War I produced works of anti-art that deliberately defied reason; but Surrealism emphasis was not on negation but on positive expression.

The movement represented a reaction against what its members saw as the destruction wrought by the “rationalism” that had guided European culture and politics in the past and had culminated in the horrors of World War I.

According to the major spokesman of the movement, the poet and critic André Breton, who published “The Surrealist Manifesto” in 1924, Surrealism was a means of reuniting conscious and unconscious realms of experience so completely, that the world of dream and fantasy would be joined to the everyday rational world in “an absolute reality, a surreality.”

Drawing heavily on theories adapted from Sigmund Freud, Breton saw the unconscious as the wellspring of the imagination. He defined genius in terms of accessibility to this normally untapped realm, which, he believed, could be attained by poets and painters alike. This movement continues to flourish at all ends of the earth. Continued thought processes and investigations into the mind produce today some of the best art ever seen.

In the Philippines, there are just few good surrealist painters. These include Bienvenido Bones Banez, Jr., and now perhaps, De la Rosa who is now making noise in the surrealist world.

Portrait of Anatomy

Portrait of Anatomy

Unknown to many, the young De la Rosa who is known to enchant her viewers and collectors with her gardens, landscapes, Churches, beaches and people, are into the surreal since the early 2000. Her Portrait of an Anatomy, had won a distinction on the prestigious 58th Annual Artists’ Association of the Philippines (AAP) Competition in 2005.

Last year, her Hordes of Charlatan came into view, a philosophical and political statement of the young artist against the quackery and greed of those who are in power. It is also served as mirror of her subconsciousness and super-consciousness, for the painting meditates not only on death but also on eternity; bones and skulls in the Gnostic beliefs symbolize the resurrection of the pure soul.

Amazingly, her new set of works, which she had struggled to finish amidst busy schedule and taking care of a sick hound (De la Rosa is a dog-lover), offer refreshing thoughts to ponder about life, knowledge, human and social developments, and the reaching of the Higher Self.

Her Backward Development, with the spectacle-wearing monkey drawn upside-down, amid the criss-cross of bones, woman’s and man’s hands, holding a skull with a lighted candle on it, and fingers with eyes, is indeed an interesting piece.

There were rumors that the society, because of the self-destruct qualities of men, are now going again to its primitive state. Darwin’s theory of evolution had become futile in this piece of art, which says, that due to the men’s materialism, his clinging to the temporary (wealth, body desires, etc.) had made him ignorant to the ultimate goal of life, which is the attainment of Eternity or the immortality of one’s soul.

Backward Development - Oil on Canvas

Backward Development - Oil on Canvas

However, one can argue that the ultimate goal of life is to attain happiness that can be extracted through money, sex and food; that obtaining all of these can bring one to the Harlem or the Oasis of Existence. But, is there anyone has meditated on the fact that the more you wanted, the more you are starved; and the more that you become intelligent or wise, the more you become foolish? As of King Solomon, one of the wisest kings of the Old Israel said, “Everything is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 1: 1, 3, 8, 16-18; King James Version, 1611).

On the other hand, her Chalice shows the viewer of the men’s ultimate destiny: to become eternal by having the complete union with the Supreme.

The three skulls enveloped in a golden halo, with the exposed brains in its complete and partial forms, and the palate showing a complete set of teeth, simply represent the fullness of the unknown wisdom (as the viewers can see, the only a portion of the two brains are exposed, except the middle brain), in which the Man struggles to pursue.

The Jesus Christ lizard on the lower-right hand corner of the colorful canvas represents the regenerative process of the Soul. As one is struggling to learn the process of Immortality by mastering the wisdom taught by the Spirit itself, the one can be assured that anyone who diligently seek Her, can find her and that the Almighty is indeed generous to give Her and her fruits to those who love Him. (Sirach 1: 10, a book of the Apocrypha).

The red, bright shining ruby in the middle of the forehead of the central skull is the verification of the Spiritual, although according to the creator of the work she has not known such interpretation of her work, wisdom of the painting. (Proverbs 3: 13-15).

What is more interesting in this piece, is only a foot that carries all the weight of the three skulls (that can be symbolically interpreted as the wisdom, yesterday, today and the morrow) and that broke bones are scattered all over the foot of the canvas. Is this an agreement with the words of the Proverbs 3: 21-23 (KJV): “My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck. Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.”?

The third work, The Awakening seems to be the combination of the ephemeral and the ethereal, the carnal and the spiritual, the wisdom and the folly.

With man as the center of the heart of man, it is visibly a statement of the artist’s observation of the society: Everyone seems not to care with one another, and while one eye is looking on the realities, one is blinded with greed and selfishness which hinders him or her to have the complete view of the what is happening to the society.

Nevertheless, the Burning Bush on the upper part of the dissected body, with roots are found in the seeing eye, salvages the entire negativity of the picture. In the book of Exodus, Yahweh, the Almighty God spoke to Moises through a burning bush, which symbolizes the eternal light and the consuming power of the Righteousness and Love of God.

From there, Yahweh had instructed Moises how to salvage the Israelites, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, His chosen people, from the yoke of slavery.

With the knowledge and the complete love for the Divine as the center of the journey of men to his salvation—represented by the brain wherein the extended roots of the Burning Bush is connected—one can be assured his or her filthiness can be purged and the real Self, can be released, the strong and the free one (symbolized by the wolf).

The alligator’s skull which serves as the opening of the womb of the dissected body, can be a center of a positive reflection, too. Notwithstanding its “common” symbol of greedy politicians or world leaders, in the Egyptian mythology, the crocodile or the alligator represents strength, wealth and fertility. Remembering Taweret, the Egyptian hippo-crocodile-lioness goddess of the Nile which protects the women in pregnancy and birthing, and although considered as the wife of the devil god Apep, is the protector of everyone against evil spirits.

Nonetheless, the alligator as a replacement of the female’s vagina, can also be interpreted as the hunger for sex or the fullness of one’s sexuality and the never ending appetite for material enjoyment.

In the whole, her The Awakening can really awaken one who is searching his or her self, and can attain the promises of Enlightenment. (30)

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