Stripping the Art Scene Naked

The Art of Doing’s pilot project, Hubad na Katotohanan, wants to bring local art back down to its roots through nude sketching and uncensored talks.

by Emil Hofileña, photo by Angela Ulep and Cherisse Yao

Work by Claudine Delfin. All materials were provided by Art Bar, iFex, and Faber-Castell.

 

A nude art making marathon is exactly what you might expect it to look like: over the course of an entire day, five artists in a private room sketch a series of models who, one by one, disrobe and cycle through a number of poses, using the environment any way they see fit—this includes bottles of wine and cups of coffee passed around to relieve any nerves. But there is surprisingly little discomfort between artist and subject here, which is exactly what Kayla Dionisio and Czyka Tumaliuan want to accomplish with their newly launched interactive platform, The Art of Doing. This art making marathon, aptly entitled Hubad na Katotohanan, served as the project’s private launch on July 8 at Warehouse Eight, Makati.

 

Set designed by Altum, Jia Cabansag, Design Story, Inc., Core Living Manila, and Tierra Plants.

 

Despite the stillness in the air, Dionisio and Tumaliuan, who were exhausted by the end of the marathon, related that they actually started The Art of Doing out of a sense of utter frustration with certain local art circles. To them, so much of the scene has been focused on matters of prestige and moneymaking, with not enough efforts geared towards uninhibited expression and exploration. In other words, a nude art session like this would embody the kind of scene they’ve always wanted more of: candid, somewhat messy, but completely unconcerned with anything else other than the process of art.

 

Work by Alfred Marasigan

And so this private, invite-only event felt less like a class or a prestigious gathering, and more like an intimate encounter among strangers and friends. The five featured artists, Alfred Marasigan, Claudine Delfin, Anjo Bolarda, Jem Magbanua, and Jacob Lindo, were allowed to interpret the models’ bodies in their own styles, with any concerns about scarcity of materials generously being taken care of by Art Bar, iFex, and Faber-Castell. Likewise, the models—all first-timers, ranging from tattooed men with musical instruments, to a dancer pointing her legs skyward, to a mother breastfeeding her child—were given no direction other than to submit to the spontaneity of the moment.

 

But every attempt at art must have a constraint, and the only real thing standing in the participants’ way was time. The models only held each pose for several minutes, after which the artists were expected to turn in whatever they had, before the next pose began. But as with any artistic constraint, the limits were not there to stifle creativity but to encourage it. “Feeling ko, the longer they pose, the more I try to ‘perfect’ it,” Delfin explained. “Pero sa quickness ng sessions, I feel freer to experiment with the thing I’m looking at.”

 

 

The pressure, of course, seemed to have been more intense for the models, many of who understandably had to work up from initially shy poses to more expressive and full-bodied positions. “I was completely at ease in a matter of minutes,” Renee, one of the models, said. “It was anything but erotic and I realized that it really wasn’t about me. There could have been an apple in my place and I know the artists would draw it with as much intensity.”

 

Work by Jacob Lindo

 

The process of discovery at Hubad na Katotohanan was twofold, then: the artists had to sketch and interpret whatever jumped out at them first, while the models had to find ways to best express themselves through their bodies, without the expected help of clothing and makeup. “As a stylist, I recognize and enjoy the transformative and communicative powers of clothing,” Renee continues. “But modeling nude and being stripped of every article of clothing I had was as much liberating as it was frightening. I realized that my body was as much ‘me’ as the clothes I choose to put on my back.”

 

 

It’s an undoubtedly difficult process, especially for first-timers, but one that The Art of Doing wants to continue exploring as it moves forward with its other programs. For Dionisio and Tumaliuan, the reward of art should be the art itself, and the change that occurs within both artist and subject. It’s a relatively idealistic notion, Tumaliuan admits, but one that they believe carries real, lasting power.

 

Work by Anjo Bolarda

 

Work by Jem Magbanua

 

While a nude art making marathon is a strong symbolic beginning for The Art of Doing—it is, after all, concerned with the stripping down of art to its roots—the programs do not end here. On August 12, the second phase of Hubad na Katotohanan is set to push through, again at Warehouse Eight. Here, the works from the July 8 session will be exhibited and sold at low prices, but will be accompanied by poetry and uncensored dialogue regarding issues that aren’t often spoken about publicly in local art circles—stripping down the scene to what makes it tick and the issues that keep it from blossoming. The Art of Doing has just begun its campaign to inspire change, but it’s doing so without looking back.

 

L-R: Claudine Delfin, Alfred Marasigan, Kayla Dionisio, Anjo Bolarda, Czyka Tumaliuan, Jacob Lindo, Jem Magbanua

RSVP to the Hubad na Katotohanan Exhibit at bit.ly/artofdoingexhibit.