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“Kith and Kin”: Salvarita, Jumalon siblings launch works in new Dumaguete art gallery

November 19, 2008


Art runs in the blood. In many parts of the world, art – like a family trade – is passed on through generations. One might even consider growing up in environment where paintings are a common sight, and art-making is as common an activity as cooking, as part of a long apprenticeship where one emerges with sharp eyes and sure hands.

Salvarita/Jumalon is the bold title of an art exhibit launched in the opening of The Boston Café Art Gallery (owned by Quddus Padilla) in Dumaguete City in 20 November 2008. It boasts of a peculiar symmetry – two brothers, two sisters, all inheritors of a family legacy.

(Clockwise) Boston Cafe Art Gallery owner, Mr. Quddus Padilla, Razcel Jan Luis Salvarita, Rianne Salvarita, Amihan, and Jana Jumalon-Alano.

The Jumalon sisters and the Salvarita brothers certainly consider their fathers’ trade as a major influence in turning them into the artists that they are. For Amihan and Jana, their father, renowned artist Edwin Jumalon, was a palpable presence, letting them hold a paintbrush and leading family art “sessions” as early as when they were in their childhood years.

The Jumalon family of painters hails from Zamboanga City, and they are all visual artists. Winner Jumalon, arguably one of the finest painters of his generation, is the most visible family member. But everyone, including Lorna Fernandez, the matriarch of the family, paints.

Razcel and Rianne Salvarita come from Bacolod City where their father also continues to take up the trade. Roger Salvarita is one of the forerunners of art in their hometown and was an equally influential presence in their lives. Their grandfather – Roding Salvarita– was also a painter, proving that art thus run in their veins.

“Sophia in Bloom,” by Razcel Jan Luiz Salvarita (oil on canvas, 3 x 3 feet, 2008)
“Air Goddess ,” by Rianne L. Salvarita (oil on canvas, 3 x 4 feet, 2008)

Rianne has been building momentum as an artist. He had been featured in a coffee table book, “Life, Love, Beauty”, with 45 other Filipino artists. His one-man exhibit “De Picturas” at the Negros Museum has found buyers in Germany and the US. He has also been a part of many exhibits in Bacolod, Dumaguete, and Manila.

In Salvarita/Jumalon, he tackles a technical approach to painting via classical Western rendition. He gradually lays out layer after layer of color in his big canvasses and, taking off from 1940’s glamour photographs of American movie stars, situates them as muses of the elements. In one work, a single nude figure poses languidly, draped in a sheet, and bathed in earth colors. In another, his muse sits on a pedestal in the sky with ankles crosses, holding a palette and a brush. Both works evoke sensuality and nostalgia as they hew close to Renaissance modes of figuration; however, little touches like stylized stars or his subject’s bemused faces places his paintings firmly in the modern world.

As an artist and a driving force in environmental advocacy, his brother, Razcel Salvarita, integrates art in his bid to make a difference in the society he lives in. He has thrust environmental issues to the public in his role as a performance art activistthrough “non-violent, direct actions.” Among his other achievements is the formation of a group of artists who are collectively known as Artantrum – a group that actively hold exhibits in alternative spaces in Dumaguete.

In contrast with Rianne’s work, Razcel’s paintings forsake the painstaking forms and tones of classical realism for a minimal approach to subject composition and the flat use of color, borrowing values from the Expressionists. One work shows a seated nude woman with her back to the viewer looking towards the glare of light set off from the yellow background. In contrast, her hair is a broad slash of burnt amber that seems to open a rift in the painting. Razcel states that both his and his brother’s works serve as a tribute to the Divine Feminine force that has always served as their illumination and enlightenment.

“Body 3 ,” by Jana Jumalon Alano (acrylic on canvas, 3 x 4 feet, 2005).
“Trojan Horse ,” by Amihan (acrylic on canvas, 3 x 4 feet, 2008) .

SistersThe second half of the art partnership includes the Jumalon sisters, Amihan and Jana.

Jana, the younger of the two, has been immersed in various projects, including painting, which has shaped her impulsive outlook in art. She is an accomplished musician who writes her own songs and who graces Dumaguete’s music scene with her regular gigs while taking up a degree in art. She has also been involved in various art shows all over the Philippines, including a family exhibit at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

Whereas the Salvaritas’ works feature women in all their sensuality and mystique, Jana’s paintings for the exhibit slam into the viewer with their stark and disturbing portrayals of the female nude. Her figures have elongated torsos with prominent ribs; their arms flail about or are held in front with palms towards the viewer as if meeting an invisible wall, the top edge of the painting cuts off their heads. They were made during a tempestuous period after she has just given birth to her daughter, Jana states. It’s an excruciatingly honest look at the challenges of motherhood.

Amihan has been in the art scene for 20 years. One of her memorable exhibits was a solo exhibit at the CCP in 2002. In addition to that, she has exhibited in Zamboanga,Davao, Cagayan, Dipolog, Baguio, Bacolod, Dumaguete, and Manila. Recently, she is included in the Blanc Artspace group exhibit slated for the end of November. She has also been involved in theater work as an actor and director, taking the helm for a group of short plays and Satre’s “No Exit” production at the Ateneo de Zamboanga University.

Her works in this exhibit include paintings from series she calls as “Assasinadas” which juxtaposes images of women and seemingly innocuous placements of guns and instruments of violence. In one work, a native-looking woman is wrapping a rifle with a strip of white cloth while a large carousel horse looms in the background with a doorway on its flank. In another, an iron maiden – a torture device in the medieval era – bears her face and another figure – which bears a semblance to her sister’s face – is seen crawling out. There is a sense of unease with her paintings, a foreboding of violence that may just be about to break out.

From the birthright bestowed by their fathers, to the subject evoked by their mothers, the blood flows on through these artists.

The Salvarita/Jumalon exhibit opens at 5:30 P.M. in November 20 and will run through December 31, 2008. For inquiries, please contact Quddus Padilla at09204350506 or visit Boston Café Art Gallery at Corners Sta. Catalina and Noblefranca Sts., Dumaguete.