Painting live in paradise

By Marz Aglipay@marzren

January 15, 2024 12:00:00

Crimson Resort & Spa Boracay held its Art Warrior Philippines 2023 Championship last Dec. 16. Visitors from around the island, artists from neighboring provinces and hotel guests were freely able to access and take part in the beachfront interactive art competition.

Art Warrior’s concept is nothing new. It follows the model of a competitive live painting event like Art Battle in the United States. Artists compete to create a work between two time-limited rounds after which a champion and a runner-up is named.

The first Art Warrior Philippines round kicked off in February and were held every other month. It is an open-themed contest that allows its contestants to use a reference photo during each round. Materials were provided, all they had to do was to finish their work within 20 minutes.

One element of pressure for the contestants is that the audience could come close to the artists while they work. Yet the main interaction between the two is their ability to vote for their favorite artist who shall advance to the next round. However, the judges’ scores hold more weight in determining the winner.

Junior warriors

In the lead-up to the main event, the management launched its very first Art Warrior Junior where kids age 8 and 13 years old, were invited to compete. This division was judged by the hotel’s current artist-in-residence, Christine Sioco, the outgoing artist-in-residence Govinda Jean Marquesto from Cebu, and guest judge, the “young Picasso of the Philippines,” Worth Lodriga. Xialeigh Dawn R. Mateling was recognized as the very first Art Warrior Junior Philippines champion.

“I think it’s our culture that defines us and brings us forward but how can we get young kids excited about it? Kids don’t typically have a long attention span but if we can get them excited for 20 minutes to paint, it’s a good thing, right?” Patrick Manthe, Crimson’s general manager said.

“I think a lot of the kids who participated are probably surprised themselves as to what they could do in 20 minutes, and they might now hopefully paint more often. It’s really all about inspiring the kids and the younger generations to create art and having hands-on creativity a bit more in their mind than just consuming digital content.”

Art Warrior Philippines Championship brings back all the winners that competed in 2023. A total of nine out of the 10 finalists and two wild card contestants competed for the title of Art Warrior Philippines 2023 champion. Contestants have diverse art backgrounds, from hobbyists, teachers, tattoo artists and muralists. They either applied through Art Warrior’s screening or invited by Manthe’s network of Boracay island-based artists.

After two grueling rounds of speed-painting, a bonus 10 minutes was granted to the artists that made it to the third and final round. James Gabriel Amandy emerged as runner-up for his painting of a fish swimming toward the viewer. He took home P10,000 and a sponsored stay at Crimson Resort & Spa Boracay.

Famed muralist

It was Japs Avelino, Boracay’s famed muralist, whose portrait of a woman with vitiligo, who took the title of grand champion. In addition to the title, he got a cash prize of P15,000, a solo exhibition at Crimson Resort & Spa Boracay, and a stay at Crimson Hotel Cebu.

The artist won over the crowd in the first round with his painting of a ballerina with a prosthetic leg being lifted by doves. “What you saw in the first round are people like me who have disabilities. We struggle but are lifted by our hope,” Avelino said in Filipino. “When I paint, it’s always based on my life. It’s heavy but it’s always connected to my life.”

Avelino talked about the pressures of competing in Art Warrior. “It’s hard to paint in just 20 minutes, very challenging no matter how good an artist you are. You’ll shake and your mind will get distracted. You have to focus on your own work. We’re not used to painting while people are watching us. But the pressure is enough to make you want to sink into the sand.”

Prior to competing in the first Art Warrior round in February, he worked with Crimson Hotel for a portrait reveal project featuring different interpretations of Anne Curtis. Avelino’s painting was among the two hand-picked painting by the actress/influencer.

Premier art platform

All the works made during the competition were offered for sale in a 50/50-percent split, with one-half going to the artist and the other funding Crimson Resort & Spa Boracay’s Youth in Arts program, which funds art workshops for kids on the island.

Art Warrior Philippines has been a catalyst for both artists and the organizers to discover an untapped art community in Boracay, where artists groups and platforms are few to nonexistent. “There are no galleries in Boracay, unfortunately,” said Manthe. “Either you practice art commercially, like caricature on the beach or murals. What we really want is to bridge art that moves people through events like Art Warrior and our other art programs. The community that we gained out of this, for me personally as an artist and an art lover, has been so rewarding. This community of artists deserve opportunities to showcase what they can do, and if we can offer that through Art Warrior and the other activities we do here, I’m more than happy to do this.” —CONTRIBUTED INQ