by Ivan Anthony A. Adaro | February 20, 2022
“The triangle is such a powerful shape,” an artist at Shelter told us. He goes on to tell us that this shape is where his works are always built upon. “Each side of the polygon,” he says, “represents something… the artist, the artwork, and the audience.” However, the journey in pursuing a career in art is not an easy one and not for the faint of heart — most people would not find that surprising. Even for those with talent and perseverance, art is known to be a difficult skill to master. Art is a learning process, and it takes years, perhaps even a lifetime, to perfect one’s craft.
Still, none of those can deter a true artist who has the burning desire to express themselves and for whom art is an inextricable aspect of their lives. Faye Mandi and Hersley Casero, the local artists who collaboratively painted the series Ripples, are no exception to this. Exhibited at Shelter, the newest art gallery in Dumaguete City which had launched its opening last February 6, 2022, their stories and achievements are proof that there is no stopping an artist who has a strong passion for the arts. In an interview, they shared information about Ripples, their life stories as artists, and the key takeaways that they gained in their pursuit of building a successful career in the field of art.
The Goal and Vision of Ripples and Shelter
The art exhibition series, Ripples, was done through the collaborative efforts of Faye Mandi, a fine artist and the owner of the Shelter Art Gallery, and Hersley Casero, a renowned member of the Dumaguete art scene. It features eight masterpieces that “grew on the walls”, as the artists described them. Just like ripples that form freely in the sea, the name of the exhibition was inspired by how free-flowing their collaboration was. “There was no force at all. It was really just a nice collaboration. There was a lot of respect, and it was very fun and natural,” said Faye. As the name suggests, their pieces are greatly inspired by water and the colors of Dumaguete City. From the archipelagic geography of the country, the beautiful islands that dot the regions, and the people that reside the islands, their artworks reflect and capture the beauty of the Philippines and Negros Oriental. “It’s all about regionalism — honoring the country and region where you originated from and grew up on. It is important that when you work on something, it should reflect who you are and where you came from.”, added Hersley.
The main highlight of the art gallery and exhibition is to create and provide a safe, creative space for budding artists to bring out their uninhibited inner creativity and unlock their full potential — to push Dumaguete City to give its artists the recognition and support that they deserve. Faye and Hersley hope that through this exhibition and art gallery, many artists will be inspired to master, hone, and celebrate their own craft — one that fosters a bridge for articulation and self-expression.
The Artworks in the Gallery
The artworks were painted on-site within the gallery in the exact same positions where people see them today. Each artwork is a product of the two artists’ exhibited art styles and visions coming together as one. The imagery and theme depicted in Ripples evolved naturally through exciting experimentations and harmonious conversations as the two artists let their hands and paintbrushes flow freely on the canvas. “It was almost like singing in a duet harmoniously. Everything was coming together naturally,” said Faye.
True to its name, the ripple effect is present in each artwork, encapsulating the idea that art should be free from the pressure to conform and from the fear of external criticism brought upon by the obligation to please the masses. It was all about experimenting with lines and colors and making them shine on the canvas. Overall, it took two to three weeks for the two artists to finish painting the artworks and two months to prepare and season the canvas and other resources.
With its captivating visuals, each artwork holds so many details that compel people to have a second look. From afar, and on pictures, it may seem like each painting is only focused on one subject. But upon closer inspection, the serigraphy features of printed faces distributed across the canvas comes into view. Hersley said that they infused this style into their paintings to represent the concept of interconnectedness — the idea that we are all connected, one way or another. Another detail that you will start noticing is the fireflies, in the patterns of astrological signs, plastered on each artwork. Again, still inspired and brought up in the name of interconnectedness.
The first two paintings that were sold right away were “Fish Out of Water” and “Just Keep Swimming”. The colors and hues complementing the subject of the pieces create a narrative that depicts a reality in life for every individual who is yet to explore the wonders and challenges of the world. Just like a fish out of water, embarking on something new and garnering success can be difficult, but it is not impossible. Just never give up and keep on swimming — keep trying, strive to do your absolute best, and trust in your own abilities. This was the message that the two artists wanted to convey through the pieces.
The “Reflection” and “Free Falling” pieces also have a story to tell. Having more of the complementary mix of colors that accentuate the art and imagery that sets a nostalgic mood, the story behind the pieces is nothing short of amazing. Titled “Reflection”, the piece shows the importance of reflecting in your inner self and channeling what you truly feel into the artwork. It is all about believing in yourself and having that courage to take a leap of faith, as seen in the subject of the “Free Falling” piece.
Finally, the most eye-catching piece in the gallery is “Tell Me Your Story” — the first artwork that you will see even before setting foot inside the gallery. This 130 by 88-inch artwork is the largest one in the exhibition, filled with many details and techniques that make it the most promising and expensive piece in the gallery with the price of P1,000,000.00. True to its name, “Tell Me Your Story” is an artwork that encourages people to tell their stories. Each person has their own experiences and stories to show and tell, and it is all about simply finding the right moment to express it. Like the girl poised in mid-air surrounded by the rippling waves, fireflies, leaves, and fauna, this piece is an embodiment of art, story, and emotions coming together as one.
The Ripples art exhibition at the Shelter art gallery is still open for viewing up to March 6, 2022, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. Located at Jose Romero Road, Angatan, Dumaguete City (the street going from Hypermart to Robinsons Place, on the left side of the road). The gallery is open to all visitors who wish to see the artworks up close and talk to the artists in person. There’s also a bonus cafe hidden behind the door inside the gallery. Hersley, one of the artists himself, told us that their flat white is definitely a drink he recommends.
About the Artists and a Message from Them
Experiences and memories from their childhood days molded them into the artists that they are today. Born in Zamboanga City, Mindanao, and to a family of successful accountants, Faye Mandi always knew that she was a creative person. When she was a child, she used to draw dresses, gowns, and anything that speaks of fashion. This was what made her love art. She shared that in her first year, she majored in accounting but, after a year, she realized that it did not make her happy. Later, she traveled to Dumaguete City and enrolled in Silliman University where she got her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting. She is currently based in Dumaguete City and is the owner of the Shelter art gallery, making her one of the youngest collectors in the country and the youngest art gallerist in the city.
Faye is fond of lines and incorporating them into her paintings. She believes that lines, just like colors, are a good way to express emotions. She also loves doing things that take time, and working with lines, for her, is a therapeutic process that can really bring out her emotions. As seen in the pieces of Ripples, lines played such a huge role in the overall imagery of the paintings, and it indeed reflects Faye’s art style and passion for lines and details that encourage people to appreciate the simplest things in life. Aside from lines, she also loves creating sculptures and giving objects a second dimension. “It’s all about taking something normal and transforming it to give it life and a new meaning,” said Faye.
A lot of her works are inspired by modern artworks and surrealist sculptures. Among them are Meret Oppenheim, Damien Hirst, and Joseph Cornell. She believes that art is not all about the final output. Rather, it’s all about trusting in your own craft, believing in yourself, and enjoying the process. She also added that when you make art, it should evoke emotions. “When you work, it should trigger the emotions of the viewers because if it does not trigger any emotion at all, then it is not as beautiful as you think it is.” And those are pieces of advice that she would like to give to artists and people out there — to express and trust in your craft because by believing in yourself, the rest will follow.
For Hersley Casero, a multidisciplinary visual artist based in Dumaguete City, the art journey began when he first drew a helicopter made of lines for school back when he was five years old. Little did he know, that experience would kick-start his art journey. Through the years, Hersley has participated in many art events and exhibitions that made him the artist he is today. He motivates other artists by collaborating with them in projects such as The Laughing Boy Project and Bahandi sa Kabakhawan. Currently, he is an artist-in-residence at Foundation University. He was also granted an Artist of the Year Award from the said institution, and the Negros Oriental Young Heroes Award in the field of Visual Arts last 2018.
Being born and raised in Dumaguete City, his artworks and exhibition styles are influenced by the city and nature surrounding the island. He shared that he loves exploring and experimenting with different art styles including new media art forms. And that is what inspired him to infuse the concept of serigraphy onto the artworks at Ripples. He said, “As an artist, you have to be flexible. It is all about exploring new things and challenging yourself to work hard and better every day. If it’s easy, then it’s boring. It’s not success if it’s easy.” And he would like to emphasize that to artists out there and encourage them to be brave — to start at a young age, all the while keeping in mind that art is not a competition. Rather, it is something that should be shared and built with other people and artists; meeting others and building relationships.
Dumaguete City is brimming with talented artists that often go under the radar, and it is high time for us, people, to see and celebrate their craft. “Dumaguete has many artists out there that have lots of potential, but what’s the use of potential if it’s not brought out and put into action?” said Faye. Through this story and exhibition, the pair hopes that the art gallery will be a shelter that provides freedom and a great support system for artists out there — one that fuels the passion for creative expression, reflection, and articulation.