From ‘Hands of Faith’ to ‘Patronato Real’

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Two exhibits at Pinto Art Museum

 Anton del Castillo’s ‘Hands of Faith,’ oil on gold leaf mounted on wood

Anton del Castillo’s ‘Hands of Faith,’ oil on gold leaf mounted on wood

For the month of May, two local artists are featured at Pinto Art Museum, a private museum dedicated to presenting contemporary and indigenous Philippine art and located in Antipolo City, Rizal.

These are contemporary artist Anton del Castillo who focuses on how the hands and their gestures reveal the fundamental messages of connecting to the divine aid, inasmuch as his works portray humanity as a skull (This device is known as a memento mori and since ancient times has been the symbol of mortality); and artist Guy Custodio who retells vignettes that refer to the four hundred years of colonial hispanization—from its early episodes of conversion to the eventual sale of the archipelago to the United States.

In Hands of Faith by del Castillo, the artist descries that despite all claims and all allegiances to faith (or no religion at all) the fact of mortality remains, and the conflict of power and hierarchy remains a human-all-too-human aspiration.


He also explores religious iconography in depicting hands in their most expressive and symbolic form. He sources Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Specific hand gestures called “mudras,” as well as western Christian traditions where clasped hands are indicative of prayer. Different hands therefore have different meanings of faith.

On the other hand, Custodio’s series of paintings on old distressed wood panels called Patronato Real, shows the story of Christianization in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period is a story of cultural and political conquest.

Custodio uses a technique and style that appropriates the look of antique and quaint religious panel paintings and in doing so, he creates a pictorial tension where the work, immersed in the patina of the past, narrates the past by lifting its curiously forgotten veneers of memory. In them the artist tells various stories, among them the fleeing of a number of Jews to Samar to escape the Inquisition, to the conversion of Boholano natives in a baptism ceremony in the Loboc River.

The artist also re-imagines biblical scenes in a local spirit, making use of indigenous elements and native landscapes to provide a vernacularizing context to the Word. Patronato Real refers to the Royal patronage of the Spanish Crown to the evangelical and missionary work of Spanish Catholicism in the Philippines.

Del Castillo is an award-winning artist whose works have been featured in many shows here and abroad. He is an Asian Cultural Council grantee and a winner of the Sheoni Award of the Asian Sovereign Prize. He lives and works in Quezon City.

Custodio, who is based in Bohol in the Visayas, also works as a restorer of colonial and religious artworks.

Pinto Art Museum is located at 1 Sierra Madre St. Grand Heights, Antipolo City, Rizal. For inquiries, email at pintoartmuseum@ yahoo.com or call 6971015.

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