Wednesday, October 12, 2016

164. Notes on Celeste Lecaroz's Portraits: #4 Communication of an Emotion

It was Leo Tolstoy who theorized that art is about the communication of an emotion. If the artist is able to convey the emotion that the artist felt when creating the artwork and the observer feels the same feeling upon viewing it, then the artwork is a success. Before Celeste painted the portrait of Fr. Jose Cruz, S. J., I told her of my one experience with the man.  It was my first day in Ateneo Law School, and the first part of the afternoon was a mass by Fr. Joe. My classmates and I came from various colleges, and we all had reasons why we wanted to become lawyers. Of course, most of us wanted the prestige and power of being a lawyer, especially an Ateneo-schooled lawyer who had a heyday in the post-Marcos legal landscape. We were going to be bar topnotchers, high profile corporate and litigation lawyers who would run the country in due time. We were going to be big shots. Fr. Joe gave us a general absolution before we started so all of us could receive communion. And then, when he gave the homily, he sounded differently. He began questioning our motivations to become lawyers,  berating us for our selfish goals, and asking us, "Is there a single drop of blood in your vein which is not motivated by an appetite?" I have never heard anyone ask that question before. He said it in this diction and voice characteristic of Ateneans of his era a la Raul Manglapuz. With this background, Celeste started her work on the portrait and when it was completed, I decided Tolstoy was right -- the success of an artwork is in the conveyance of the emotion. I see Celeste's Fr. Joe Cruz, S.J. and I reminded of what he asked that afternoon in Ateneo Law School, a question so profound yet so practical that it torments me everytime I think about it. It is a unique feeling. The man is looking at you, his eyes are piercing, he doesn't seem to be pleased nor pleasing, he's asking something, and you know he won't like your answer.  "Hey you,... big there. ..?"and I utter to myself, "I sure hope there is Father. I sure hope there is."

Celeste's Fr. Joe Cruz, S. J. and other iconic Ateneo teachers will be on exhibit at the Ateneo Alumni Art Fair from November 13-19, 2016. 

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