Paints, Photographs, and Curios: An Interview with Edgardo Gamo Jr.*

Edgardo Gamo Jr. a photographer, painter, and antique enthusiast and dealer in San Pablo City, Laguna. (Photos from Ed Gamo’s Facebook page.)

1. When did you start painting?

I really liked painting and drawing, even during elementary days. My mother used to send me to different art workshops, here in San Pablo City, Laguna. Then my father used to by me books. As far as I can remember, I use to copy the works of Van Gogh, [Fernando] Amorsolo, etc. However, the output is just like that, a child copying a drawing or a painting. That time, I drew my inspiration from the works of the old masters. Perhaps, this is also the reason why I have had developed love for antiques.

2. How about photography?

Then, I began to enjoy capturing those special moments of a person’s life. I like to capture those once in a lifetime moment, like the happy tears on the bride’s eyes; the way the groom looked at his bride while walking down the aisle; and the embrace of the parents and asking them their blessings through “pagmamano”. Those moments, those emotions, that can never be repeated. – Gamo on photography

I started photography four (4) years ago. There was a client who just swapped a camera with one of my items. Then I thought, it’s great; that I can use the camera to shoot some pictures to have some reference for my painting. Then as time passes by, I developed that sense of enjoyment shooting pictures. Then, lately, I have lots of photographer friends. They are the ones who taught me what I know—from the basic to the advanced techniques in photography. In joining them, I have developed my talent in taking pictures.

One day, my friend asked me to become his replacement for baptismal photo coverage. When I was there, I was very nervous for I was thinking, I was just a backup! But I have survived that ordeal. It was then Ed Gamo Photography has started. My clients loved my style, although I have always been the “second shooter.” Then, I began to enjoy capturing those special moments of a person’s life. I like to capture those once in a lifetime moment, like the happy tears on the bride’s eyes; the way the groom looked at his bride while walking down the aisle; and the embrace of the parents and asking them their blessings through “pagmamano”. Those moments, those emotions, that can never be repeated.

Then, there are big events that our team has been asked to cover. I just want to thank our clients for sharing their special moments with us. At the end of the day, it is not the amount of money we have raked after the coverage that we’re talking about, but the happy and sad moments that we have captured. At the end of the day, we’re wishing them luck, the best of everything in life.

3. Is there any specific genre and medium that you prefer in painting? Kindly explain and elaborate why did you choose that genre and medium.

My mediums are oil, water color, and acrylic on board or canvas. I love painting the things that I see in everyday life, especially those precious moments in someone else’s life. I love bringing them back to life in my artworks. I like to paint the things that ordinary folks do, for example, the moment that a mother or a father holding his child and they were smiling, or crying because of sadness or joy. For me, the facial expressions or the actions of the person tell a story about his or her life. These are the things that I want to show the audience, the things that I want them to feel. In doing landscapes, what I love is my parallel dimension series. Most of them are from my dreams. Someone asked me, “Is that place real?” I just reply, yes, it is real—in my dreams. I strongly believe that we can see the things that are beyond the physical plane; that we can experience, even a glimpse, of what is beyond the plane where we live.

Furthermore, I love to play with colors. I believe that colors are symbols of our life. Whatever is happening in our lives, there is a corresponding color to describe that experience. In my belief, in a painting, the subject’s position, for example, a person, plus the colors; these will make the painting alive and realistic to the eyes of the spectator.

4. Who are the people whom you consider as your great influence in your art?

When I was younger, my beloved mother, she’s the number supporter of my painting hobby. She’s the one who’s looking for mentors. At the same time, the European and Filipino old masters, they were my influences. I was always amazed by their works, and I always think: How did they make the people in their paintings “alive” and “moving”?

Meanwhile, during high school days, the people surrounding me and the things that I have experienced with them—this was the start of the evolution of my style. I have seen what real life is.

During college days, my professor at the UST (University of Santo Tomas), my classmates and co-artists that I have met there. There were exchanging of ideas and techniques.

At the age of 40: What give me inspiration to me are my two children and my partner in life. They have huge contributions in my life. They are the ones who give me happiness. For me, it was them who enliven my consciousness, hence, the development of my painting concepts. My life actually revolves around them. I can’t totally explain but just simply seeing their smiles, knowing that they are happy—it’s like magic that puts me into a trance state, and then another opus. Just seeing those, I can sit in front of my easel and begin to paint, which can be overnight.

5. What do you prefer best: Photography or painting? Kindly elaborate your answer on why you chose one over another or if it is both.

For me, it would be both. In photography, you can create an artwork using the camera, which is the counterpart of brushes and paints. I need also to take pictures so that I can have beautiful references for painting. But I love painting more than photography. Because in painting, I can show the things that I can’t explain and say. It was in painting that I can reveal what’s in my heart. In panting, you can show the real things in this world.

6. When did you start collecting and selling antiques?

I started collecting antiques, about 10 years ago. I love old things and oddities. The creepier the item is, the more I wanted it in my collections. I love things that have historical value, things that have stories. These are things that are difficult to find and to purchase. My personal collections are for keeps, they’re not for sale. I want the future generation to enjoy it.

On selling antiques: If I have a spare or a similar item in my collections, then it was the time to let it go. I sell them so that other collectors can also enjoy them. Besides, I need also to sell so that I can increase my collection and to buy those more expensive items.

7. Do you consider antique collecting and selling an art also? Please elaborate your answers.

Yes, collecting antiques is also an art. You must have an artistic sight or taste and values for you to distinguish the things that are beautiful and have value. Because, if you don’t have the “taste,” for sure there will be no one that will buy items from you. Mostly, collectors can appreciate what is beautiful and what is not.

* This Q & A is for an article that will appear in the next issue of Filipino Artists Magazine. The focus will be on his paintings but mostly, Mr. Gamo’s curios and antique items. – N. S. B.

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