Camille Dela Rosa on Surrealism


by Pam Brooke A. Casin


Arts and Culture –  Artist at Work

January 26, 2009

Camille Dela Rosa with her paintings

Camille Dela Rosa with her paintings

Talent—either you have it or you don’t. Fortunately, for visual artist Camille Dela Rosa, talent has never been an issue. Whereas other people become overly concerned with mastering every skill possible, and while some even go to the extent of joining every imaginable competition to test their providence, Camille is different. She had never been that type, as sheer talent runs in her veins, flows like an infinite stream, and bubbles like an effervescent spring.

Like a nymph that retains her beauty even after death, Camille is effulgent, passionate, bright-eyed, and buoyant as her paintings are.

However, more than talent and good genes from her father and the master himself, Ibarra dela Rosa’s progeny is a natural artist who has perfected what her father started. Now, she is continuing to explore new painterly expressions and is willing to expand her inspired imagination all for the love of the arts.

With no formal training in art, Camille is as skillful as she can get. Her good looks and introverted demeanor may lead one to think she’s just a face who sits and looks pretty all the time, but Camille’s temperament is seen in true light through her garden and church paintings that resemble the stylistic leanings and sensibilities of her late father.

Impressionistic, intense, and vivid, Camille’s opuses are testaments of how influential her father was on her. It also helped that Camille liked drawing and sketching even as a toddler. She recalls attending her father’s classes, milk bottles in tow, while Ibarra’s students became nannies for the day.

She says she was lucky enough to attend her father’s classes and remembers how her father would allot a part of his blackboard to her so she could also draw and doodle freely. Camille was five then.

Growing up in an artists’ circle enhanced Camille’s artistic pursuits. Even her mother, who dabbled in the arts and was once an art history and humanities professor at the University of the Philippines (UP), was integral in Camille’s formation as an artist.

After Camille’s short-lived stint in show business in the ‘90s, her enthusiasm to paint and to follow her father’s footsteps still took over.

It doesn’t matter that Camille finished voice lessons in UP and that she had her fair share of theater limelight; the young Dela Rosa lives to paint. She breathes arts and enjoys every minute of basking in and learning from it. She considers it an inhabiting force that allows her to show her true colors and a spellbinding light that captures her essence.

However, Camille has already left her comfort zone, stressing she doesn’t want to be stagnant at one visual genre and stay forever on that plateau.

Eschewing impressionism, an art trend that boasts of visible brushstrokes and open composition, allows emphasis on light, nature, and their fleeting qualities and showcases highly romantic and idyllic aesthetics, Camille is now geared to survey the bizarre and the surreal. This is not to say, though, that Camille has discarded her brilliant-colored and multi-hued palette for austere and somber colors.

Sketches of human skulls and of the human skeletal system are posted on the walls of Camille’s quaint and bucolic studio. Filled with impressionist pieces, renaissance-inspired works, charcoal nudes, abstracts, and one portrait of her father, Camille’s studio is poised to house Salvador Dali- and Francis Bacon-motivated oil oeuvres, what with her growing curiosity in surrealism.

An art movement that espouses non sequitur art, surrealism is best seen in Dali’s odd and philosophical pieces. Doing away with formalism, surrealism is a ‘revolutionary movement’ according to Andre Breton that highlights unanticipated figure combinations, tessellated images, disinterested moral, and aesthetic preoccupations and play of thought in the absence of reason.

Evident in Camille’s recent works is her penchant for anatomy. She juxtaposes image upon image of human skulls and animal framework which makes her paintings a tad difficult to decipher.

One has to look closely to discover nuances and details which would be normally left unnoticed such as a woman exposing her derriere set inside the mouth cavity of a skull and that which serves as lips to the disjointed and distorted face that the artist projects. This is seen in Camille’s first surreal composition titled “Portrait of Anatomy” in neutral black and white.

Another of Camille’s surrealist work billed “Hordes of Charlatan” is outwardly a grim depiction of the human mind. However, the painting, more than anything, is arresting since it tells that the mind is multi-dimensional and above all brilliant, what with Camille’s technique of seemingly forming a lucid light that gusts above the skull. It somehow reveals the unfathomable and invulnerable quality of the mind.

Why surrealism? “I like diversity. As long as my hands are busy drawing and painting, that’s fine with me and I’m happy with that. But surrealism excites me,” the painter reveals. “With it, I’m able to imagine and invent out-of-the-box figures. With it, I’m able to think more. Wala ka ng kopyahan dito eh. So, it challenges me.”

Although, Camille has delved into different art forms, created a stir in the art scene, and apparently gained critical success throughout her career, she is stopping short at nothing to develop her draftsmanship, her skill, and her talent saying she still has many things to learn and to understand. That’s why she even sees herself painting at old age as learning is a ceaseless creative process.

Guided by fiery passion, Camille is more than ready to become one of the masters. Her father would be so proud.

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