Fluidity and mastery of colors

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By Nickky F. P. de Guzman, Reporter

THE WORKS of Filipino artist Edgar Doctor heal. In his ongoing exhibition at the Conrad Hotel’s Gallery C called Master of Colors, he showcases the power of vibrant colors and how they have the ability to cure the tired eyes of the viewers, caused by the bleakness and monotony of the everyday life. His subjects — which range from mangoes and fish to a bowl of sinigang (sour soup) — are about the mundane and simple, but they show his mastery in watercolor: they are fluid and without edges, and aesthetically therapeutic.

“I don’t know,” Mr. Doctor said when asked of the repeated appearances of fish and fruits in his latest exhibitions.

But what he does know is that the idea that watercolor is a difficult medium is a misconception he’d like to debunk. Mr. Doctor says that a mistake in watercolor can still be “cured” (pun intended) like oil and acrylic, but entails mastery in stroke.

“All I can say is that doing an artwork is not about its difficulty, but creating an artwork lies in the artist’s enjoyment and satisfaction while creating a piece. Para kang nanliligaw (It’s like wooing a woman). When you do it in haste, there is no glory in it. So paghirapan mo, ’yun ang masarap (You work hard for it — that is what feels good),” Mr. Doctor said.

Born in 1941, Mr. Doctor is recognized as one of the country’s finest visual artists. Besides watercolor — which is what he is best known for — he does metal and wood sculptures, print, and oil and acrylic paintings.

“Being an artist requires you to be always in the mood. As they say, art is the first love of an artist. His wife is second, a mistress. Art is our lifeline, we’re like fish taken out of water [if you take away art],” said the 77-year-old artist who works on “at least drawing” every day to keep his art alive.

“The passion is there. ’Pag gusto mo yung trabaho mo walang kasawaan (if you love your work you will never tire of it). I make it a point to at least draw every day. The discipline is there. Art is jealous, iwanan mo ’yan, iiwan ka din nyan eh (leave it, and it will leave you, too),” he said.

A member of the Saturday Group of artists, he shuttles between Manila and New York twice a year. He was listed in the 2,000 Outstanding Artists and Designers of the 20th Century published by the International Biographical Center in Cambridge, England.

Conrad Hotel’s Of Art and Wine series, featuring 30 works by Mr. Doctor, is on view until June 8.