Mayon Volcano from Borabod, Manito, Albay

Mayon Volcano and Albay Gulf from Terraced Rice Field in Borabod, Manito, Albay.  acrylic on canvas. 24"x30"

Above is an updated image of the painting I am working on and is the subject of a previous post on landscape painting in relation to world views.  

I always wanted to work as fast and as boldly as Vincent Van Gogh while building disciplined and solid works as Paul Cezanne's.  In this work, however, I also wished I had the clean and well thought-out planes of the Japanese Ukiyo-e artist Hokusai and perhaps start a Mayon volcano series in the fashion of his 36 views of Mt. Fuji.  After all, the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists were also influenced by Japanese prints.

Shore of Tago Bay, Ejiri at Tōkaidō from Hokusai's Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji

My fear of human destructive intervention is expressed in the absence of human figures on the canvas.  This also reflects how Cezanne created the feeling of timelessness by eliminating human figures in a landscape, as pointed out by art writers.   It seems that I would rather have the terraced rice fields and the two cows represent human activity than literally paint them on the canvas.  

The cows are my brother's and were named  "Bulala-cow" and "Maki-baka" by himself and by his son.  They are painted red to pull them forward, closer to the viewer and to force the viewer to gaze not only at majestic Mayon volcano but to direct their eyes downward and toward the bottom right, ending with the cows.  I was tempted to lay swatches of red elsewhere on the canvas to balance the red but that would diminish the force and effect achieved with the two cows.  

Here, no matter how visually powerful, engaging and dominant Mayon volcano is, the other components of the landscape are given a chance to attract viewers' eyes, hopefully make them realize how the place has so much more to offer than the usual  post card Mayon volcano.  No matter how hard one tries to focus on the volcano itself, the two red cows assert themselves on the bottom right.  

A landmark should be a starting point.  It should not be the end.  It should attract.  It can be a rallying point, a flag attraction, but it cannot be the end.  There are other interesting and meaningful places, people, and attractions.  There are other matters and issues for one to reflect on like the condition of farmers and fishermen in the area.

A painting may have several purposes as a consequence of the artist's multiplicity of roles.  I will try to deal with the artist's multiple roles in this next blog about my reflections on Ambeth Ocampo's lecture "Amorsolo:  Portrait of the Artist as Historian" at the Ayala Museum.


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