160. Notes on Celeste Lecaroz's Portraits: #1. The Face
NVM Gonzalez used to talk a lot about how the diachronic and synchronic characteristics of language could be the key to finding an endless resource of inspiration. The diachronic is the historical and mythological dimension of words whereas the synchronic is the declarative words of the here and now. It was NVM's "trade secret" that allowed him to write as much as he could, the mind and writing hand hopping from the historical and mythical to the here and now and soon he accumulated a treasure throve of authentic Filipino literature that made NVM a National Artist. In visual art, if one were to look for the same spring of inspiration, the human face is probably one of the most fertile grounds to mine. In the human face, one not only finds a story of a generation, a race, or the entire humanity, but also a representation of a specific person with a particular historicity, color, and uniqueness. Thus, the human face has the history and mythology and the here and now, the perfect cross between the diachronic and synchronic. Yet, the peculiar thing about the face is that it means nothing unless it refers to a specific face of a person. An artist may draw a face, and with a mastery of the anatomy, achieve perfect symmetries on the eyes, nose, and lips; but, it could hardly be relevant to any one, except probably to the student of medicine studying the human species. To work and make the subject teem with meaning, the face as a subject of an artwork, must be the face of someone -- perhaps a great man like the Pope; a hero of a war, like Antonio Luna; a comic artist, like Dolphy; a beautiful soul, like St. Theresa of Calcutta; a sports icon, like Kevin Garnett; or someone close to home, like your mother.