She signs the initials “LM” at the bottom of her canvasses, choosing to separate her celebrity from her art.
“Not too many people know this side of me,” says Love Marie Ongpauco who goes by the famed name of Heart Evangelista in show business. She is bursting with excitement as she talks about her secret passion to paint.
Truth is, the 29-year-old TV and movie star has been painting all her life, and has finally found the courage to show her work to the public through her first solo exhibit at the ArtistSpace of Ayala Museum in Makati City on May 8 to 22.
The show is aptly titled I am Love Marie, the Art and Works of Love Marie Ongpauco, and will be comprised of 19 oil-on-canva–ses, ranging from small frames to murals.
Of dreams and friends
Very colorful, Love Marie’s works are an interesting mix of patters and prints that repeat themselves. Symbols, she says, which denote anything from self-doubt to audacity, from love to hate, from melancholy to joy, and many inexplicable feelings.
In every piece, one can search for a heart or the letter “H,” obscured beneath the bolder, fiercer, louder patterns.
“Sometimes I see the patterns I paint in my mind. I also dream about them at night and they drive me crazy!” Love Marie shares, laughing.
Her less abstract pieces often present women, sad yet strong and defiant. The women are veiled in prints and patterns that creep to the sides of their faces, or framed by a mesh of repetitive emblems and a profusion of colors and shapes.
Heart clarifies that her women are not necessarily self-portraits.
“I don’t know, they might be me, but I look at each painting like a friend,” she reveals. “I gave one of early my works away and it was so hard to do.”
Time to shine
When Love Marie was two or three years old, her parents made sure all the colors in her play kit were washable, because no matter what they did they could not stop their little girl from drawing on the walls.
Naturally, her parents enrolled her in art lessons to nurture her talent, but at 12 years old, Love Marie decided that learning the different techniques of painting stunted her style.
“I appreciated everything I learned,” she says. “But then maybe I was a rebel. You tell me what to do and I’ll do the opposite. I was so bored.”
Before she knew it, Love Marie found herself drawn to a new interest. It was in 2001 at age 16 that she was unable to resist the call of show business—so much so that Love Marie, the aspiring artist was relegated to the sidelines, as Heart Evangelista became a star.
“This time, it’s Love Marie’s time to shine,” the actress quietly says. “From these works, it’s as if Love Marie is sharing her diary [with her viewers].”
Painting for the talented lady brings her immense comfort, especially during the inevitability of dark, dreary and depressing moments in her life. With her brush, she can turn her negative feelings into something beautiful.
“I think I draw better when I’m sad,” she admits. “When I’m happy, I don’t want to be still. I want to be out there. I want to see the world. But when I’m sad, that’s when I don’t want to see anybody, and that’s when I want to hide.
“It’s a good thing [I can paint] because I’m not a writer. I like to sing, but I’m not a singer. But I can paint,” she declares. “I can express my feelings through images, and I’m so grateful that I can.”
I am Love Marie, the Art and Works of Love Marie Ongpauco will be on exhibit from May 8 to 22 at ArtistSpace on the ground floor of the Ayala Museum Annex, Ayala Museum, Makati Avenue corner De La Rosa St., Greenbelt Park, Makati City.