I have a penchant for paintings, especially colorful abstract pieces. I used to paint when I was young but didn’t pursue the passion. It’s always a joy to see the work of arts of other artists and I was so in love with this Voyadores piece from the recent solo exhibit of Pancho Piano entitled “Hagod” at the Okada Manila. The exhibit is extended until August 2018, so you still have a chance to view Mr. Pancho’s masterpieces.
Pancho Piano is a true blue visual artist who, over the course of 35 years, have created incredible works of art through his distinctive paintings, impressive murals, and liturgical stained glass designs.
While most of his bodies of work are paintings, the artist has also crafted masterpieces through wood carving and clay sculpture.
But whatever medium he chooses to express his creative juices, chances are that the theme of his artwork centers on Bicol’s many interesting myths, legends, culture, and traditions.
With a penchant for realism and abstractionism, Piano’s paintings often portray the beauty of humanity, with a signature stroke where softness and loudness are both in harmony.
“I want my art to be a way to bring the beauty of the Bicolano culture, and the Filipino people in general, to the forefront. When people look at my work, I want them to think, reflect, and appreciate the beautiful culture that we have,” said Piano.
Piano’s works have a “jolly” vibe to them because the artist said his work is a reflection of who he is as a person. He loves using pastel colors in his paintings, with results that are striking and evocative.
Some of Piano’s favorite themes to paint are indigenous deities such as Haliya, the moon goddess of abundance and fertility; Daragang Magayon in the folktale of ill-starred lovers; as well as myths surrounding the origin of Albay province. He also loves to incorporate in his work the region’s festivals especially that of the Our Lady of Peñafrancia water festival.
Piano is enormously prolific. Over the years, he has held more than 50 solo shows ( exhibited “Hagod” in Okada last May to June 23; another exhibit, “Merging of Colors” opened at the SM Aura last June 21) and joined over 200 group shows, locally and overseas.
An artist’s awakening
Born in a quaint town in Lagonoy, Camarines Sur, Piano was raised by a father who was a teacher and a stay-at-home mother. Second to eight siblings, Piano discovered his love for the arts early in life.
“When I was in high school, the fishermen in our barrio would ask me to paint artworks in their fishing boats. In exchange, they would give me fish that they had caught,” Piano recalled.
Piano has an economics degree from the University of Nueva Caceres (1978), as well as a Fine Arts degree from the University of the Philippines Diliman (1984-1987; as a Jose Joya Scholar).
Among the artists who Piano looks up to include National Artist of the Philippines in Visual Arts Vicente Manansala and acclaimed muralist Botong Francisco.
Before becoming an award-winning artist he is today (winning over 10 major national competitions in the Philippines), he had to go through tough times, too.
“Being an artist is kind of like being a fisherman — sometimes the catch is plentiful, sometimes there’s almost none,” he said.
Today, Piano feels it’s a little easier for newer artists to make a name for themselves because of social media, which wasn’t around yet when he was just starting out.
But, he is very happy with the way that artists — and art, in general — is being treated nowadays. He said there’s more respect for artists and artwork, and even art collectors are more passionate these days.
At home, Piano is a proud husband, father of three, and grandfather to a five-year-old Aria, Basti, 2 years old and Stella, 2 months old.
Aside from the various exhibits that he has committed himself to, he also spends his time mentoring younger artists in a group he organized — the Salingoy Art Group, an organization of Bicol-based artists; and Bicol Expression, a group of Manila-based artists whose roots originate from Bicol.
“As an artist, it’s important that we get to share our talent with the next generation. It feels good to know that you’ve helped someone become the best they can be with your assistance,” he said. Pancho’s creations are meant to tell a story of a culture, a province and a people. As an ambassador of the Bicolano tradition, he is a true embodiment of an artist with a purpose, a Filipino artist whose work is of his land and people.