2013.10.25 By Arlene de Castro-Annonuevo
I paint my subject as he gets in touch with his inner self. Whenever one looks at my painting, I want him to answer this question: What does it mean to be a person historically, experientially and personally? The viewer has to go beyond the surface and reflect on what he sees so as to arrive at a deeper understanding of the human psyche. This is the foremost reason why I do not render my subject based on the usual standard of rendering it; symbolism always being an integral part of my work. Philosopher Descartes says “I think therefore I am.” In my paintings, I say “I think and I feel therefore I am.” Painting is not a matter of duplicating an image but capturing my subject’s essence- soul on canvas.
Arlene de Castro-Anonuevo (Adecastroan) is a true daughter of Iba, Zambales, having been born and raised in this rustic town by Carlos Gonzales de Castro, a Zambaleno of Spanish descent and Estela Sy Loria, his Chinese-mestiza wife from Pangasinan. Her paternal roots in this place can be traced as far back as the time of her great-grand uncle, revolutionary patriot Andres de Castro Bonifacio, whose mother Catalina is a de Castro from Dirita, a barrio in Iba.
Art beckoned early to Adecastroan. Gifted with a highly imaginative mind, at age four, she began trading playtime for hours of sketching, a passion so consuming that images on her mind seemed to spill out ceaselessly so that the world becomes one giant sheet to draw on.
At age eighteen, Adecastroan’s passion for drawing waned as she focused on her studies at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. After graduating with a degree in sociology, her creative expression was further relegated in favor of family and career. It was only in 2009, after her retirement as a stewardess in Cathay Paific Airways, and later as assistant front office manager at the Midtown
Hotel, that she returned to her first love. Adecastroan began to devote full time honing her art, shifting from sketching to painting seriously. Although largely self-taught, she learned the basics of painting from master painter Fernando Sena, and Arte Pintura artists Addie Cukingnam, Azor Pazcoguin, and Rey Ademis.
Themes of magical realism weave through Adecastroan’s work, whether her subject be portrait, nude, animal, or flower. Her paintings reflect the beauty of nature, and her colors reververate with the vibrant hues of wild forests, the vivid colors of sea and river, and the deepest shades of the mountains. Her subjects are mostly women – virgins and earthy women alike, usually accentuated by an animal or flower that mesmerize the viewer.
Adecastroan is one versatile artist. She can easily shift from one style to another- realism, expressionism, surrealism and abstract. Her collection of work is almost eclectic. What unifies her variety of style is her attention to details, the use of allegory, the story and emotion she imparts in each of her work that invite the viewer to explore the depths of her subject and have a glimpse of her soul as an artist. She further enhances the expression of her art by using a broad range of medium: pastel, watercolor, oil, and acrylic on paper and canvas.
Adecastroan had her two solo art exhibits at the Heritage Art and Antiquities Gallery and Bali Estela in 2009 and 2012 respectively. She has recently paricipated in a two- woman art show and regularly joins various group exhibits. She is an active member of the Pinoy na Pinoy Visual Artist Association Incorporated (PPVAAI) and also of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS). Her artistic pursuit supports her staunch advocacy for animal rights and wefare.
See more of Arlene here.