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Gemma Suguitan: A piece of wood in the junkyard as an art work

 Photographed by Carl Llanto for FilCASPro.com

There are many definitions of what beauty or what beautiful is in the same manner as what art or what artistic is.

In a relative sense, beauty lies in the beholder or as commonly argued about.

Of course, in the realm of what aesthetics are, art and beauty are two ideal spheres which have outright meanings including the premises of how their concepts and their notions have evolved and took definitive stand.

For instance, Greek philosopher Plato has the classic precept of “the true, the good and the beautiful” to describe what art should be. For him, art is beautiful when it expresses truth and beauty.

The works of Gem Suguitan along with other artists were exhibited at the plaza of Lucban, Quezon during the opening of Arts4Earth.  

Thus, the meaning has acquired a universal tone.

It is to be noted, however, that the principle wasn’t the former first lady Imelda R. Marcos’ original maxim to gauge up what art should be when she begun to project herself as the patroness of the arts during the years of the dictatorship.

Art, in general terms, has a set of standards to measure up being a diverse range of activities as defined by Wikipedia. Art, includes, the ancient and traditional fields of painting, sculpture and architecture but later on it has become broader to include music, theater, literature, film, visual arts, other performing arts and later, multimedia especially in modern history.

Gem Suguitan was a writer before she discovered her talent in abstract painting.

Beauty, on the other hand, means that what unleashes pleasure and satisfaction on whatever stimulus is set before a beholder.

Just the other day, entertainment writer and former tabloid and now news online editor Art Tapalla and this writer were going down the second floor of the Cultural Center of the Philippines or CCP after a presser by the agency’s Vice President and Artistic Director Chris Millado on the purposes and prospects of the Manila International Performing Arts Summit (MIPAS) which was held last month.

On the open space near a gallery hang blue pales—the size of regular water containers in our bathrooms—about fifty or so of them strung together in a rectangular assignment by a dainty coiled rope.

Her journey as an artist may have started long before she tried to paint.

It was a rare sight for how can plastic water dispensers make effective items to collate an art form.

But it was an artistic creation, plain and simple.

“How ingenious,” Art exclaimed.

Being one of the Earth Warriors, this artist helps save Mother Earth through her works.

It could be labeled an art because it evoked the beauty of an installation. It said a lot of things about what the artist wanted to convey—unity, happiness, joy, etc. There are materials which are simple and economical and recyclable.

This is also how Gemma Suguitan—a native of Lopez, Quezon, a member of Lopenze Artists a group of young artists from the Quezon town—operates.

This writer have known Gemma, also known as Gem, for the longest time especially with a lot of common interests in the arts we have been sharing together like literature and film.

This visual artist does not only find inspiration in nature. She is heeding the call for its preservation.

But we’ve only recently discovered her to be a painter when she started to post in social media, namely Facebook, her paintings which many people found beautiful based on their reactions and comments.

Most of these artworks are abstracts to be exact about them and the expressionistic tendencies were explicit the inner thoughts of the artist showing like simple joy but we wouldn’t want to drop the idea that sometimes her anger or frustration, two malevolent feelings a human person can release, also showed in some of her splashes on the canvass. That, of course, is the relativity of the beholder.

”Life is a Mosaic,” acrylic on wood by Gem Suguitan.

Yes, even negative thoughts are given a positive outlook in a piece of art.

As a matter of fact, the artist has one work in progress she posted on her Facebook. The title of the piece is “UOP” which according to her means nightmare. Suguitan asked: “Can a nightmare be this beautiful?”

The night before Arts4Earth Week, the artist prepares for her ARIMUHAN Exhibition.

And what do you know? Gem’s canvasses don’t exclusively come from the finest boards and easels.

Many of the recent palettes and panels Suguitan are recycled materials from every nook and cranny of her surroundings in Pasig City where she lives.

Pieces of plywood or unused lumber even the not hammered ones idly piled in one corner, Gem would ask permission from the owner to collect. “Nadadaan ko lang papunta sa amin, nakatambak sa isang gilid kaya kinukuha ko. Sayang, e (They are just there, lying in one corner, when I pass by so I gather them. They should be useful),” chuckled Gemma.

 Friends from the media were there to support the exhibition curated by film director Jowee Morel.

Later, these pieces of unused wood were transformed into beautiful artworks.

Meanwhile, colors are Gem’s loyal army and she loves her muses. “Sometimes I just need to play with colors. Sometimes I just let it flow,” she quipped. Colors can also be recycled, according to her especially watercolors.

Her body movements are also her artistry and the mute expression of her aesthetics. “When my hands do the talking,” she confessed with wonder.

Colors for Gem are a therapy of sort against negativism prevalent in the current social landscape in the city and elsewhere. “Fill your day with colors and you'll never go wrong,” she advised.

Busy night at the plaza of Lucban, Quezon as the Obras are being grouped in preparation for the exhibition.

There was a time Gem joked her paints were like her boyfriends and best friends most of them taking their leaves of absence. “Namimiss na ako ng mga pintura. Miss ko na rin sila (My paint brush and my colors already miss me. I also equally miss them),” she laughed.  

We only found out Suguitan has already hundreds of paintings from recyclable materials ready for the public to see. I learned from controversial Fil-Briton filmmaker Jowee Morel that Gemma was very prolific when she was painting those creations.

Artworks of different sizes speak of the origin of the planks of wood; salvaged from a food cart maker trash.

Since Jowee has an advocacy on the love for nature and environment he thought of a program that could see through his advocacies and a fusion of art and ecology was instantly combined, thus “Arts4Earth.” What was more significant and relevant were the materials used by Gemma were all recyclables like unused woods in home and other space constructions.

“I easily thought of Gemma’s art creations to accentuate the theme of ‘Arts4Earth.’ So I immediately called her and requested if her works can be exhibited if an art show is incorporated in the project. She said no problem and so an art exhibit was included in the program,” informed Jowee.

The artworks traveled from Metro Manila to the Mystical Land; Lucban, Quezon province.

Morel approached the Office of the Mayor of Lucban, Quezon and he was referred to the leaders of the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office which is headed by Mary Ann Javen and the Committee on Man’s Ecology being chaired by Councilor Margarita B. Deveza, also known as Shiela Deveza. The three got their acts and energies together and “Arts4Earth Week” was hatched and launched.

Mini-installations were made on some of the works.

“The concept of a clean-up drive, one of the components of ‘Arts4Earth’ started when we were filming the principal photography of the documentary film ‘The Mystical Land: Lucban, The Story’ where we noticed that the once pristine waters of Lucban in its waterways were already polluted and the coolness that Mount Banahaw has been emitting is already humid,” recalled Morel.

Aside from friends in the media, environment officers from Lucban town were part of the team that set up the exhibition.

On September 23, 2019 at 7 in the morning, aside from delivering speeches at the Plaza Marcos Tigla, singing environmental songs, reading stories from books, dancing, blowing whistles, striking the drums, talking in seminars for love of the nature and all that would exemplify “Arts4Earth,” Gemma’s arts were shown until September 29, 2019.

Suguitan was also joined by international artist Pepot Atienza; Efren Nantes, the president of the Lucban Artists Guild and his colleagues Maria Lourdes Bandilla Abulencia, Thea Mujares and Angelo Villa;  Lopenze Artists’ member JayMar Valdoria and Bea Carnaje from Iloilo.

These are all earth warriors in their own way.

Meanwhile, a poetry reading about the conservation of the beauty of nature was done by Zenaida Salcedo-Cabangon and Gem’s licensed forester daughter shared her thoughts on the preservation of the environment

Gem Suguitan the artist,culture worker,local historian and writer;the world is ready to welcome her.

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