For the spectator to fully understand Camille Dela Rosa’s aesthetics is to communicate with her subjects. It is not enough just to appreciate her paintings, but the audience should “know” and “feel” why they are beautiful. Perhaps, the audience may feel that this task is only for the art critic – to go more deeply into the details of what is called “artistic process.” However, Camille’s works cannot be treated as mere products of the artist’s imagination; they have life and soul of their own, speaking directly to the audience, asking to be understood. Every time one views her latest works which were unveiled last June 26 at the Art Underground, one is compelled to stop and deeply reflect on the hidden meaning each work of art wants to convey.
Needless to say, the ingenuity of Camille lies not only in how she creates the images presented on the canvas, but on how she breathes life, intellect and soul into each one of them. Camille had woven intricate symbols that represent the intricacy of the human and the world psyche (collective consciousness.) Each painting connotes semiotics and alchemy, transforming the “lower” self to the “higher” self, transporting one from the mundane to the spiritual.
Psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung discussed the four feminine archetypes and their association with the development of the human soul or psyche. It is very interesting as Camille had presented the “evolution” of the feminine principle in her new body of work.
For Jung, the female principle could be the Queen, the Mother, the Lover, and the Wise Woman. These four are ever present in each and every aspect of creation. Without the feminine principle, or the anima, the entire universe will suffer from imbalance. Since the animus or the male principle is considered aggressive, the anima will counterbalance it. Like in Taoism, balancing the Yin will require the Yang, and vice versa. In Filipino mythology, the Malakas-Maganda (the Strong and the Beautiful) story also operates on the same principle.
In her “Persephone Unveiled,” Camille presents the wonderful and terrible power of change. Persephone, the goddess of the underworld and of spring, is the catalyst of change. For immortality to arise, mortality should be sacrificed—hence the power of death to unleash man’s immortal spirit. Spring, on the other hand, is the “resurrection” of everything that was dead throughout winter. Her veil is similar to fish scales symbolizing abundance, depth, wisdom and mystery. The pendant of her necklace is the Flower of Life and Merkabah which to the alchemists are both symbols of creation and the ascension of the Consciousness of Man. The rubies symbolize the sun—the primordial source of power in our solar system and the one that causes the change of seasons.
“Emperatriz” represents feminine power, the Queen. In the Tarot she represents the power to create, recreate and procreate. She is also the epitome of beauty, creativity and love. The pearl and ruby necklace hanging on her neck is the affirmation of these powers. Ruby is the stone for stability, protection and wealth. The Bible considers a good wife, “more precious than rubies.” The pearl on the one hand, represents wisdom, the Sophia – thus the expression, the “pearl of great price.”
“In the Stillness of Time” goes beyond the concept of time and space. In Hinduism, the female principle is part of the primordial and ever changing force. She is often represented by the trinity of Lakshmi (the creation, representing love, delight and beauty); Saraswati (knowledge and learning); and the ferocious Kali (Parvati, destruction, power and transformation). Among the Greeks, this principle was represented by Hebe, Hera and Hecate. And the list goes on and on and on. The diamonds that adorn the character in the painting represent the perfected being inside Man and Woman, the Soul which goes beyond the concept of space and time. In the Bhagavad Gita, one of the most important philosophical and spiritual writings in India, the individual human soul is depicted as unbreakable and insoluble, and can neither be burned nor dried. Soul is everlasting, is everywhere, unchangeable, immovable and eternally the same.
“The One That Is Both” represents the unity of the opposites. In the dialectical principle, the negative and the positive, the generative and degenerative forces always complement each other. These two always cause the change in everything, though the changes may be so subtle that one can never notice, unless observed closely and carefully.
“That Each May Be Great “ portrays a warrior, reminiscent of the legendary Joan of Arc donned in shining armor. Surrounding her is an astrolabe, “an elaborate inclinometer used by astronomers, navigators and astronomers.” The three geckos clinging to her metallic collar affirm the attempt of Camille to show the continuity of life. These animals undergo molting, or the change of the outer skin but they remain the same animal. This works with the soul during the process of transmigration or reincarnation. While the soul assumes a different body, the essence remains the same.
Nevertheless, one of the most interesting among Camille’s works is “The Other’s Hidden Center.” The artist integrates esoteric symbols such as the sacred geometry, the golden symmetry and the angels. The goat in the middle of the pillar is likewise intriguing. In astrology, the goat (Capricorn) being ruled by Saturn is considered as one of the most powerful among the zodiac signs as it rules both earth and water. For those who are interested in magic, the Moon (female) in Capricorn (which is both male and female, represented by the horn of the goat and the fins of the siren), brings forth wealth, increase of personal power, and growth.
On the other hand, Camille depicts Mother Gaia or the Earth Goddess of antiquity on her “Within Her Holding.” Gaia represents growth, rejuvenation, and even death. No one can escape the cycle of birth, old age and death. The woman holding a rabbit, “The Fulfillment of Each,” and “Endless Beginning,” the one holding a chicken, both suggest fertility, abundance and resurrection.
“Each Time’s Return” that shows a woman with a gastropod shell headdress embedded with aquamarines represents perfection and beauty. The color aquamarine at the background, however, is associated with meditation and revelation, and the precious blue diamond embedded in her crown is used to allow the person to “explore the darkest depths of our souls, face to face with ourselves, and with others.”
Camille’s skill in interconnecting images is again revealed in “Aeon of the Pleroma” where the central figure wears the tiara with a Maltese cross. The cross symbolizes four Cardinal virtues: prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude. Such virtues are akin to the Christian Mama Mary. Her white lace veil is smoothly rendered that it almost blends with the background. Her crown or headdress resonates the designs of her dress.
Two paintings emit a lighter vibration, perhaps to give us a breathing space. Simply hedonistic, both works break the heavily esoteric and mystical symbolism that dominate Camille’s exhibit: “One with Nature” where a youthful lass with a floral headdress holding a grasshopper seductively looks at her audience; and the “Lily of the Valley” wherein in a woman, perhaps a mother, is surrounded by an iris flower in full bloom with an orchid mantis serving as the pendant of her floral necklace. Both works attest to their spiritual as well as physical connection with Mother Earth.
Camille Dela Rosa, as a surreal artist, is now being noticed in the international art scene. She is the only Filipino artist to be invited to an International All Women Exhibit dubbed as “Phantastische Venus” which will open this July 24 and will run until November 4, 2015 in the Altes Rathaus (Old Townhall) of Viechtach, Germany (Stadtplatz).
For more details, please visit http://www.phanart.info/2015-1/ Camille Dela Rosa’s art exhibit will run until July 7, 2015 at Art Underground, 814 Balagtas St., Barangay Addition Hills, Mandaluyong City, Tel.# 721-0745; Mobile #0917-523 7463; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. (This article appeared at the Lifestyle pages of the Manila Standard Today, 01 July 2015.)