by Nickie Wang
Each culture develops its own concept of beauty but over the years a significant proportion has begun considering Barbie as the ideal standard of female splendor. It will take generations, or even forever, to change this general perception.
To metal sculptor Daniel dela Cruz, every woman has her own distinct beauty and he depicts it in a creatively different way. His statues and body of work flatter voluptuous figure: women with big bosom and robust thighs. It has been his signature style since he started using malleable materials two decades ago.
“These figures are inspired by my wife,” he giggles pointing his fingers to some of his artworks, “But I am the reference,” he laughs while rubbing his tummy.
Daniel clears that he does respect and love women in general and he wants to portray them as a representation of people. Like at one point history wherein curvaceous women represent wealth and status, Daniel promotes beauty in a different light. He does not focus on the superficial or external features of a person.
“Looking at the sculptures, they are hefty, but they are graceful,” dela Cruz says recognizing the other qualities that most people take for granted.
In his 7th solo exhibit, the 42-year-old artist defied law of gravity as he daringly combined different kinds of metals such as copper, bronze, and lead to come up with hefty figures doing balancing and acrobatic acts. Entitled “Precipices,” the exhibit showcases 25 largely proportioned female figures that translate Daniel’s thought on man’s struggles.
“My artworks take a positive stance in the face of utter despair,” he affirms, “We may totter and stumble, and indeed, fall as we face imminent danger.”
He furthers that people who are confronted by hard situations can roll with the punches but in taking the blow they can emerge from the fall transformed and renewed. His thought-provoking sculptures center on how people find balance in the face of overwhelming negativity like the piece he calls equilibrium, which he refers as a poetic gymnast’s pose.
The artist defies law of gravity by installing a weighty sculpture on a slim appendage in one of his works that “represents a person’s hand.” It is the same idea with the artwork entitled Zenith wherein a lone figure being hoisted by other figures as it seemingly attempts to reach the sky.
“This dramatic representation expresses my belief that the top is reachable—only with the help of other people. Like in my case, I wouldn’t be able to succeed in my chosen field without the help of people who continuously support my craft,” the sculptor muses.
Sculpting started as a hobby to dela Cruz. As a child he was fascinated in creating shapes from clay, the first medium he use that hobby turned into a source of livelihood later on.
With the passion he infused in every work he creates, dela Cruz became a formidable design expert. Exporters took notice of his unconventional renditions of human figure and used his talent to design decorative figurines for export to the global market.
As an artist who tests his limit and capacity, dela Cruz also tested the limitation of his chosen medium. In some 25 pieces, which are on view at the Artist’s Space of the Ayala Museum from August 27 to September 7, the intuitive artist stretched the limits and strength of various metals to allow fluid forms and movements.
Combining mixed metals and manipulating them to create a desired figure is a painstaking task. According to the artist it takes at least four months to finish one huge sculpture, but underneath the long and intricate process of molding these metals is a message that the artist wants to communicate.
“Precipices gives shape to a positive aspect of coming face-to-face with the things that challenge us, the messages that the sculptures convey are rather relevant most especially that most people experience hard times,” he ends.