Motherhood has been one of the most persistent subject matters in ancient and modern art. Its cultural significance—a perspective that often revolves around domestic scenes, expressions of intimacy and the nurturing nature of the subject—is dominant enough for it to be considered timeless.
In Ang Mundo ni Inay, acclaimed visual artist Araceli Limcaco Dans explores the enduring theme of motherhood. With each piece that took almost a month to finish, the 86-year-old seasoned painter has proven once more that she deserves to be a National Artist, which even her colleagues and bosom buddies believe she rightfully deserves.
The pieces on display included paintings entitled Pamatid Uhaw, Ani ng Statis, and Pagkatapos ng Ulan and paper clay sculptures like Dumadaan ang Parada, Tulog Na, Anak and Araw ng Linggo, to name a few, all reflect the instinctual aspects of being a mother. It’s also apparent how Dans placed her subjects firmly into the concrete context of how motherhood is viewed in the Philippines.
Every artwork on display bears her signature, not literally her name though, but the embroidered lacy fabric called calado. It’s a truly unique subject and unmistakably Filipino.
“She used to draw portraits but her clients would ask her to make them 10 to 20 years younger or look slimmer in the painting. She didn’t want that. She wanted her artwork to reflect reality,” said Carlo Isodoro, the acclaimed artist’s grandson.
Isorodo further explained the history of her grandmother’s famous and delicate calado paintings in acrylic and watercolor.
“She wanted something that promotes the Filipino people and their culture. So, she did her research, and she stumbled upon turn of the century artists painting women in Maria Clara. She was so fascinated with the fabric. She tried painting the same but in watercolor. And we all know that watercolor is the hardest medium because you can’t change the painting once it’s done unlike using acrylic where you can still make some enhancements,” he shared.
A graduate of the UP Fine Arts and a seasoned artist with over 70 years of experience in the arts, Dans has held more than 160 exhibits both local and abroad. A multi-awarded artist, she has received a roster of recognitions such as: the Centennial Award for Painting and Art Education from the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Mariang Maya Award for Outstanding Achievement in Visual Arts and the Art Distinction Award for Painting and Art Education from the City of Manila, among others.
Furthermore, she has been honored by the UP and the Philippine Women’s University alumni associations for her contributions in the field of visual arts and art education. Unknown to some, Dans established the Arts Education Program of the Ateneo de Manila Grade School, as well as the College of Fine Arts of the Philippine Women’s University. She has also served as the President of the UP College of Fine Arts Alumni Association.
The exhibit was on display at ArtistSpace of the Ayala Museum from Sept. 22 to Oct. 4. Part of the proceeds would benefit the Sagip-Buhay Medical Foundation, Inc., which conducts fundraising activities to help indigent patients’ medication and diagnostic work that can help determine the proper course of treatment. The exhibit was co-sponsored by the University of the Philippines’ (UP) Sigma Delta Phi Alumnae Association.
Photos by Sonny Espiritu