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In Interpretations on November 16, 2009 at 4:18 pm


LOGICAL evolution is clamor and battle cry of the academe. Quests for reason, for its apparent presence or absence, had always been the foundation supporting the seemingly pretentious intellectual discussions in the field of the arts. However, it had always been so clear from the very start that Art should be free of reason, free from logic, free from intellectual explanation. As Art is an expression of its creator, the artist, it must touch senses and sensibilities without unnecessarily burdening itself with its causes, its whys, its wherefores, and its processes. It is the effect of Art that is sublime and important. It is the residue and tangible output of Art that is left behind. It is the result of the art making process that remains to speak for the artist.

WHEN mouths open, Art suffers. Successful art stands on its own. Unsuccessful artists have to voice out their reasons. They have to field their statements, only to provide noise to their ignored works. When words replace visual impact, only one thing is proven: that the artwork cannot speak for itself. The same can also be said of its delivery as it reaches its public and more importantly how it touches and communicates with its audience. It is indeed plain and simple that the quieter the artist, the better the work of art. Intuition rules over reason. Subliminal creation defies logic


Camille De La Rosa is daughter of the late great painter Ibarra Y. De La Rosa and humanities and art history professor Ethel Dimacuha, also a visual artist. Perhaps aware of the then pathetic plight of artists, Ibarra purposely did not encourage Camille to pursue her own artistic vision. He did not teach her how to paint, nor expose her to the art world he circulated in. Upon his demise in 1998, Camille nevertheless followed her heart and decided to become a painter. Ethel provided Camille with much needed support and encouragement. As constant observer, Ethel taught Camille the basics of painting, as the young artist started to produce art like her father, possibly in the style reminiscent of the French Impressionists. The noted artist Ben Francisco would be credited for Camille’s ultimate development as a painter, as a visual artist. He introduced her to the vast world of painting and gave her a dose of art theory, accompanied by various techniques in drawing and painting. Camille’s intense ambition to create a style of her own inspired her then to paint incessantly.

WITH a non-formal yet consistent artistic education outside of the College of Fine Arts, Camille developed her own style without the logical guidance of academic instructors, imposed and forced upon their students. Neither was she programmed systematically in the creation of art from basic lines, the production of forms and the use of color, to composition, to the development of artistic concepts, artist style and artistic expression. Education states that one must learn the rules in order to break them. Greater artists need not even know the rules, so there is nothing to break.

PROLIFIC is distinctively Camille’s trademark. She has had 15 solo exhibitions from the time she was only 16 years of age till she became 26 last year. This incessant production is further compounded by participation in over 50 group exhibitions here and in Asia and Europe. In the absence of formal education in the Fine Arts, that amount of art making in 10 years can surely replace 5 or 6 years of academic study. In her early career, Camille produced spontaneously and exhibited her landscapes, flowers, gardens, churches, portraits, nudes, people in various endeavors, and her abstracts. Her collectors continued patronizing whatever she produced. Yet suddenly in her 8th year as artist, she became restless and an urge to get out of the doldrums besieged her. She felt the gnawing call to unravel her real psyche.

AN AUSPICIOUS SIGN appeared in 2005 when Camille drew “Portrait of Anatomy”. Done in charcoal on paper, the central image is a human skull composed of naked muscles and bones from various segments of the human body, with a reclining female figure serving as lips. Symmetrically composed, a traditional landscape frames the central figure. Here is a work emanating from Camille’s inner self, conveying a hidden passion for deeper unfathomable mysteries. The drawing caught the taste of the respectable art jury and won for Camille an honorable mention in the drawing category of the 58th Annual Competition of the Art Association of the Philippines.

IT TOOK another three years, in December 2008, when Camille got the courage to develop her newly unraveled innards. She appeared as guest artist in Welbart’s second solo exhibition SONA where she presented “Hordes of Charlatan” in oil on canvas. The piece was graciously accepted and purchased by a private collector. This marked the start for Camille to leave her artistic traditions behind, ushering her into the world of contemporary art. The participation of Camille’s so-called “surreal” paintings entitled “Backward Development” and “Narcissism Unbound” in Walong Filipina (Eight Filipinas) in March-April 2009 received commentaries at the Liongoren Gallery. In May 2009, Camille’s “Virgin of the Rose” won second place at the Pagalingang Pinay Art Competition sponsored by the galleries of Reposo in Makati. In July at the ManilArt09, Kulay Diwa Gallery presented Camille’s works solely in its booth. The oil version of “Portrait of Anatomy”, the mystical “The Chalice”, and the 6×6-feet “Those who have ears, hear… Those who have eyes, see…” covered the whole booth’s walls. On the same month, Camille then entered her “Apocalypse” at the Annual GSIS Painting Competition. In September, her work “Awakening” was featured in a New York publication, A Book about Death, an international exposure for the artist through the Emily Harvey Foundation, orchestrated by Tala Gallery’s president James Berdach. She then participated in a group show Subtle Indiscretion in August-September with a piece called “Bestiality” and in Citem Fame’s Art Manila in October with two additional pieces “Inevitable End” and “Resurrecti Scientia”, both exhibitions under the auspices of Artis Corpus Gallery.

CONVINCED of her potential as a trailbla ze r in Philippine visual art, Artis Corpus Gallery offered to re-launch Camille De La R osa beyond her image as traditionalist. In her 16th solo exhibition, Camille has come of age. Camille has shed off her superficialities, literally, figuratively, and most importantly aesthetically. Here is a visual artist surfacing entirely from her own self-made shell, with a serious artistic statement to contend with.

CAMILLE’S new works are expressions of an inner conflict, although none may be associated with pain and gore. These can possibly be expressions of an internal rebellion to break away from tradition, although one can only surmise. Her works speak of a destruction of the words nice and pretty, without having to go to such terms as dark and ugly. Torment or angst do not have a place in the vocabulary of her works. One can actually imagine slightly playful thoughts, something notoriously naughty, happening in the mind of the artist as she composes her pieces, puts in the flavors of her colors, and slaps her canvasses with her simple signature, signaling not the end of the process, but the start of a new one.

AESTHESIA is the “ability t ofeel or perceive sensations”, or “mental responsiveness and awareness”. It is a word probably invented as back-formation of “anesthesia”, yet it describes exactly what Camille’s new paintings are all about. They are the chronicles of her senses and her sensibilities. They are journals of her inner experiences, her own private adventures. Camille’s new paintings appeal not only to the five commonly known senses of sight, sound, smell, hearing, and taste, but also to the thousand existing others claimed by Eastern practitioners: those attributed to the chakras of spirituality, wisdom, communication, physicality, potential, sexuality, and materiality.


FROM 11 exhibition pieces birthed by the 2005 “Portrait of Anatomy” drawing, a new series emerges. This time, a more cohesive theme baptizes her body of works: “aenigma” or “one that is puzzling, ambiguous, or inexplicable; a perplexing speech or text; a riddle”. It comes from the Latin aenigma and the Greek ainigma, both referring to riddles and fables. Google reveals further that enigma simple means “anything that arouses curiosity or perplexes because it is unexplained, inexplicable, or secret”.  If occult simply means hidden, then enigma is occult. If mystery were simply unknown, then Camille has trodden on mysterious grounds. Camille has embarked on an adventure beyond reason. Camille has revealed the activation of her subconscious Mind and given us the result of her own illogical evolution. Camille has mutated as an artist in order that her inner Self can be sensed by us. As her artistic evolution proceeded in leaps and bounds, so have these works materialized.

“AWAKENING” is appropriately the first work presented in this exhibition. Very buddhist in theme and context, it comments on man’s insatiable desires and their accompanying greed. The artist focuses on the man in the heart of the being, balancing the right eye widely awake and aware of the realities of life and the left eye blinded by greed and self-centeredness. Mammoth desires require huge appetites. The dinosaur in thechakra of materiality at the base of the spine takes on this role.

IN GRATITUDE for Camille’s own Ethel, “Eternal Mother” is presented in the same formalmanner as the traditionally symmetric portrait. Symbols abound in this piece. The roles of the woman as the birth chamber, as the carrier of both adored beauty and sacrifice, and as the nurturer are all present in this work of art. The snake framing the skull of time reminds us of continuity, the never ending cycle of change and transformation, the impermanenceof things. The central female figurecrowned by the moonin all its glory is image of the timeless woman, the only constant reminder of strength, compassion, and wisdom. A fully grown fetus resides in the chamber of the heart, underneath which is a skull completing the cycle of regeneration, in the core of the Eastern lotus, an omnipresent image in buddhist iconography.

IN CAMILLE’SOuroboros” (translated “disambiguation”), the serpent biting its own tail is ancient symbol of cyclicality and self-regeneration. Subliminally, it serves as aura of the naked female figure birthing the child wrapped in its primordial cocoon, possibly implying that regeneration occurs only when associated with the female energy. Coffins in the caverns of the lungs remind us of the eventuality of death, yet only to serve as the grounding earth for the springing of new life.

R E SURRE CTION” is a lo gical offspring of “Ouroboros” a s it talk s of phoenician rebirth, the ability to rise on one’s own. The lance th at pierced Christ in his cross is presented as central figure of this work, yet hidden to the common eye by the human ribcage. Its deceitful head is that of a crocodile. The meanings may be drawn subliminally with the interjection of Egyptian insects of divinity: the beetle, the spider, and the lizard. A special note on the spider’s role in the life of the Christ: a fable tells of a spider s pinning its heavy web to cover the mouth of the cave to hide the infant from the swords of Herod. Truth needs to be hidden from the eyes of the lus tful.

CELTIC lore brings us to the next painting “Sacred Bull”. Camille clearly made this tribute to the male energy, possibly one for her contaminating father, as she speaks of physical strength, virility, and the ability to procreate for the perpetuation of the clan. Bull is the sun, the protecto r and guardian of the sacred. Yet underneath the figure of the bull are the hands that toil, the hands that work the earth. Reality creeps in beneath the glory of the handsome bull. It is also the symbol of hard work and materialism. This painting somehow serves as the perfect central figure between “Resurrection” and “Galahad”, two pieces which quote from the symbols of the Christ, his glory and his reality, leaving the viewer to guess.

“GALAHAD” appears as the hooded creature as he disintegrates in ecstasy upon seeing the holy grail, traditionally searched for endlessly by Arthur’s knights. Greedy skeletal fingers and impure disintegrating heart surround the unholy quest, which has never ended to the present. As the fabled cup that was used by the Christ in his last supper, this vessel is famed to possess divine powers of wisdom and the potentials surrounding it.

THREE paintings aptly titled “Cycle of Life” are presented in the n ext sequence, as if to remind us of the very essence and theme of this exhibition. Science has proven to us the conservation of matter and energy. Life itself must devour life to live and live again. Elements such as the coiled creatures eating flesh, man’s predecessor eating the man eating the reptile, and jaws of the sharks consuming the man consuming his brain, all repeat the same story. One cannot really destroy that which has been created. Only transformation, and therefore conservation, remains the only action.

AZTEC mythology brings forth “Coatlicue” (translated “our grandmother”). This goddess wearing a skirt of serpents is the earth goddess who was mo ther of the sun, the moon, the stars, and all the other gods and goddesses, clearly a reflection of ancient belief that the Earth is the center of the Universe as well as its source. Coatlicue’s top joins two serpent heads together. Her skirt weaves upon it a multitude of snakes. Snakes had been symbols of death and fertility. Although a nourishing mother, she is also a devouring monster which feeds upon everything that dies. This is the very role of the earth, as it really is. It is the source of life and everything must go back into it to be rebirthed in one other form.

THE LAST painti ng in Camille’s current e xhibition is her own apocalyptic view of humanity: “Amph ibius Manster”. S he remarks: “Rising out of the ocean i s a man-like sea monster representing the evil forces of the universe. With its mouth wide-open , it shouts for h orror. It shows off its oversized teeth to suggest pain for the afflicted. Its chest is a blood-sucking parasite that spares no one. Its head turned away from the vie wer to connote dishonesty and deceit. It has many arms to suggest that it is a master weaver of delusions. It steps on dead bodies amp lifying its triumphant goal:                 d estruction.”

Exhibition Notes by Enrico J. L. Manlapaz, curator

Sixteenth solo exhibition launching the new body of works of Camille Dela Rosa

Artis Corpus Gallery 303 Haig Street Bagong Silang Mandaluyong City

Opens 6:00pm Saturday 5 December 2009

Runs till Monday 28 December 2009