Wednesday, February 09, 2005

BAL FORNALIZA: His Poetry of Forms & Colors

"...Ms. Marcy had found a loyal artist in the person of Fornaliza when, at times, she had no cash to pay the artwork, instead, the artist would trade kilos of rice for his painting – a reminiscent of Fernado Amorsolo’s younger years as a struggling painter."
Hamog, Oil on canvas by Bal Fornaliza, 2003

Photo by Danny Sillada (c) 2005. Posted by Hello

If one were to catch a glimpse at the rustic beauty of the province, the canvas of Bal Fornaliza is a window that invites the viewer to meditate upon the mesmerizing sceneries of the countryside environment.

Fornaliza’s pictorial rendition of bucolic life evokes a sentimental journey into an idyllic world where he came from. Through the virulent texture and translucent color of his canvas, he created a visual poetry that one could almost feel the gentle touch of summer wind, or hear the rushing waves of the sea…

One of his visually compelling images is the Fishermen. Here, the viewer can immediately feel the pictorial tensions as reflected on the jarring colors and the histrionic portrayal of fishermen pulling the net. The craggy texture of oil color is converging at the center of the canvas – resonating the unified force of fishermen who are trying to untangle their catch for the day. What makes the imagery more dramatic is the undulating movement of the waves created by the heavily laden boat.

Fishermen, Oil on canvas by Bal Fornaliza, 2003

Photo by Danny Sillada (c) 2005. Posted by Hello

Equally impressive is his portrayal of Hamog, in contrast to his Fishermen, rendered in a tranquil and bluish monochromatic color. The intervening presence of white in-between the bluish tones create a lyrical space – silhouetting the leaves of the trees as though they were moving gently with the morning breeze.

In a similar manner, the presence of deep cadmium yellow in the middle of the picture, though signifying the morning light, serves as the gray area, an optical illusion in pictorial composition, to break the monotony of color pullulating through the surface of the artwork. Nonetheless, the picture is a visual haiku celebrating the timelessness and beauty of nature in a pristine world untarnished by environmental corruption.

Born on the 15th of May 1960 at Santiago, Bato, Camarines Sur, Fornaliza’s childhood is filled with poignant memories of his paradise-like town. As a boy, he grew up within the aesthetic atmosphere of his home; his father, Sofio Fornaliza, is poet, painter, musician and composer of Bicolano folk songs. As early as four years old - his mother - his first muse and inspiration as a fledgling artist, had collected his sketches of animals and paintings of rice fields and mountains done in watercolor.

The young Fornaliza’s artistic skill begun to flourish during his primary education when his teachers took notice and, eventually, exploited his precocious gift in the classroom. His talent had gradually developed when he began to compete in art competitions during his secondary and formal schooling, as he would consistently bagged citations and awards for his artistic excellence.

As a young lad, Fornaliza had already experienced the harsh realities of life in the province when he had to earn a living through fishing, farming and other manual works in his town. Later, the artist would frequently portray his favorite subjects, with such passion and authority, about the life of fishermen and the compelling images of rice field harvests.

In 1990, he came to Manila for a better opportunity when one of the members of his church Iglesia Ni Cristo, recommended him to the Fortune Tobacco Corporation in Manila as a resident artist in advertising division. During this time, he began to participate in several group exhibitions and later, had the opportunity to launch his first one-man show at Café Malate.

His association with different artists in Manila gave him a wider perspective in his style and technique when he met a senior artist, the late Virgilio Daclan, who influenced him to use the palette knife, instead of paintbrush, on his oil paintings. His new technique is conducive to his stylistic and painterly portrayal of rustic sceneries with bold and vibrant colors.

Then came the year 2000, the turning point of Fornaliza’s artistic career when he met an art patron, Ms. Marcy Supsup, an engineer by profession who saw the beauty of his works. She bought three paintings from him through the referral of a portraitist artist named Lorence. The chemistry between the art patron and the artist gradually developed when the latter found a lover of his works.

In turn, Ms. Marcy had found a loyal artist in the person of Fornaliza when, at times, she had no cash to pay the artwork, instead, the artist would trade kilos of rice for his painting – a reminiscent of Fernado Amorsolo’s younger years as a struggling painter.

Eventually, the engineer saw the potential of Fornaliza’s work in the art market that, instead of accepting a lucrative project in Singapore, she started to hang her collection of paintings at her modest boutique in Makati.

The lowly boutique gradually transformed into an art gallery and later, branched out at Ever Gotesco in Ortigas, which is known as Shamcey Gallery. Here, Fornaliza’s works continued to capture the viewers and the passersby and even mesmerized the heart of a certain balikbayan collector who promised the artist, through the Shamcey Gallery, a one-man show in the US.

Conversely, Fornaliza’s chosen genre, which is Impressionism, corresponds with his stylistic use of palette knife with thick and almost impasto composition on his canvas. His tropical colors are orchestrated in a typical manner peculiar to Philippine environment and its climatic condition.

Red, Oil on Canvas by Bal Fornaliza, 2003

Photo by Danny Sillada (c) 2005. Posted by Hello

Though Impressionism is a movement from the West, its humble beginning is traceable to Asian arts and culture particularly the Japanese’ and the Chinese’. Like for instance, Monet’s brushwork characterizes an almost calligraphic stroke on his small and large scales paintings. It was Vincent Van Gogh, however, who recognized the direct influenced of the Japanese calligraphy in his art as indicative of his short and bold strokes on the canvas.

Fornaliza, in his own right, assimilated these influences into his own oeuvre as if it were inherent in his environment in the countryside. As one of the qualities of Impressionism is the portrayal of the present, the artist contrived his own forms and colors with dynamism and unique pictorial composition.

Although some of his works are derivative from the masters like the figurative and painterly pictures of Amorsolo; Fornaliza, however, is already on his way of establishing his own esthetic identity as one of the most promising impressionists in the country.


The Reluctant Art Dealer said...

a beautifully written piece about the artist and his works. i hope that it's not a far-fetched wish for art newbies like me to see a compilation about artists written by you in the bookstores.

at any rate, artists could really benefit from a positively written mini-essay of their life's works such as this.

hope to see and read more of this stuff. =)

RK said...

I have just purchased Eight Horses by Bal Fornaliza from an art gallery in Robinson's Ermita. It now hangs in my office and I always get beautiful comments about it from my clients. I look forward to getting another of his paintings soon. Thanks to the author of this article for providing a glimpse of the artist's personal life.


Danny Castillones Sillada said...

You're welcome, RK. :)


Carlo Tito said...

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