One of the best critics in the Philippine art, Alice Guillermo, Ph.D. once wrote about Pancho Piano, “His art has closely followed his life and felicitous peregrinations.” And truly it is. For his works often depict both real and imaginative journey as he fully blossomed as a visual artist, who had worked intensively and extensively on different media—oil, acrylic, watercolor, etching on leather, just to name a few.
Music, Myths, and Legends
Some time ago, Piano said that his dream was to become a musician; but he realized that he is for the visual arts. Hence, after obtaining a degree in Economics in the University of Nueva Caceres, he has been luckily chosen to become one of the scholars of the National Artist for the Visual Art, Dean José Joya, who had been one of his greatest influences as he was one of his mentors when studied in the University of the Philippines – College of Fine Arts in Diliman, Quezon City in the mid-1980s.
Daragang Magayon and her consort always take the center stage in Pancho’s works, and then his beloved, Ina, the patroness of Bicol, the Nuestra Señora de la Peñafrancia, whose miraculous feats are known to the entire Bicolandia, even during the Spanish time, when Catholicism is the religion of the State.
Most of the time, Piano employs abstract impressionism as his primary means of expressing whatever he saw, felt, experienced, and realized.
Being a musician before, his strokes are can be perceived as a series of notes that increase, decrease, sharpen, flatten, or soften its tones. The swirls, twisting colors, and the ever-changing hues give the drama to whatever he paints. This added the mystical flavor to his works that are often focused in the local myths and legends of his beloved Bicol.
The Stories of a Traveler
On the other hand, a well-travelled man he is, Piano also had to chronicle his trips to different countries in Asia, in Europe, and in America; and he did it with style.
Through his abstract paintings, the viewers had had the taste of what he had seen, experienced, and felt in the countries he visited in Europe and the states that he had been in the United States of America. As Guillermo has said in the curatorial note that she has to write during Piano’s exhibit at the Art Center in SM Megamall last 24 May 2016: “These voyages opening for him new perspectives of space and the universe. For it is from his recent travels, that he has produced an abstract series of paintings, which he has assembled for the present show. In these, the artist conveys the original experience of travel, expansion, and freedom.”
Piano’s exposure to different cultures and meeting different kinds of people had given him somehow that cosmopolitan spirit, and it can be seen through his recent works.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime,” says the legendary novelist, Mark Twain. And looking at Piano’s works, the images have now been transformed into an open invitation to his audience, this writer included, to begin that journey and begin to discover the beauty of the world, literally and figuratively.
Besides this, we are also being invited to uncover the power of the myths as an instrument in knowing ourselves, our own race, and about other races of the world.