Spanish-Chilean artist debuts solo exhibit in Manila
She was born in Madrid and studied in Santiago de Chile but Cristina Brias Grisar, contemporary artist and jeweler, has a deep connection with Manila.
Her grandmother is no less than Betsy Westendorp, the renowned Spanish artist who has made the Philippines her home since the 1950s. In fact, her work is so important in the local art scene that she has been awarded the Philippine Presidential Medal Merit for Art and Culture.
First visiting the country in 2010, Grisar has always appreciated the openness of Filipinos toward her family. She explained, “Here, people are so supportive, so welcoming and so loving really. It’s a very warm country.”
Her experience also made her realize how truly respected her “lola” is in this part of the world. The Filipino term for grandmother by the way is what Westendorp asked Grisar to call her.
“When I first came to the Philippines, people would always tell me, ‘Betsy Westendorp is your lola’, and I would wonder if something was wrong,” she laughed at the recollection. “Until one day I realized, ‘Wow my lola is Betsy Westendorp’.”
This month, it is Grisar’s turn to make her lola proud for after seven years of exhibiting in Madrid and Chile along with her contemporaries, she has chosen Manila to be the venue of her debut exhibit as a solo artist.
On February 12 at the Artist Space of Ayala Museum in Makati City, Grisar will unveil her world of art with the exhibit entitled The Bejewelled Cosmos.
On view until February 28, the show will feature her latest works in cosmologic and abstract expressions on canvas and film, as well as organicist and armor-like pieces from her contemporary jewelry collection.
Asked why she chose to hold her debut exhibit in the Philippines, she began to explain, “Because I am terribly scared, and even if you won’t believe it, I am really shy at first. My art is the most personal thing in me.”
Apparently, it is Manila that she finds the confidence and courage to share the product of her emotions and imagination, which she described as “cosmos in small canvases.” And it helps of course that her lola is here.
Grisar describes her work as mirroring cosmos in a metaphysical way using painting and photography as doorways to other realms of reality. This is captured in her biggest and still unfinished painting, the “Carina Nebula,” carrying a burst of colors representing the unknown universe.
The artist explained the piece is still incomplete since she always feels she can do better.
“I am not a competitive person when it comes to other people, but I have always competed with myself,” Grisar revealed.
She clarified she was never brought up to compete with others especially with most members of her family also into visual arts. From her mom to her aunt (Carmen Westendorp Brias who will also stage her exhibit in Manila in March), who are both painters to her photographer cousin, and her father who is an art collector, Grisar simply lived and breathed creativity.
“Art is a part of my familiar idiosyncrasy. It’s like an ancestral heritage,” she ended.