“Not a day without a line” has been stenciled onto a wall at the rear of Pinto Art Gallery. This quote, from Vincent Van Gogh, welcomes viewers to a room full of Elmer Borlongan’s drawings, a section of his exhibit devoted to pen and
ink studies of the oil paintings scattered elsewhere in the gallery. It repeats a mantra that Emong lives by, one that may very well provide the secret to his continued success.
Emong has made his name as a chronicler of the everyman. In the early days of his career, his narratives thrived on the comings and goings of the urban jungle, gritty episodes in the vicinity of his home in busy Mandaluyong. These days, more often than not, the idyllic scenes of Zambales feed his canvases. But wherever he finds himself, whether around the environs of Casa San Miguel where he now lives, or in Metro Manila on his frequent commutes, Emong makes it a point to record his impressions on paper. His drawings, usually based on memory, provide a visual journal that he constantly refers to. He
draws everyday, rough sketches that play with compositions, or more detailed renditions complete with shadows and perspectives. This discipline provides constant exercise for his skills. A look around the room full of drawings proves this. I thought the best pieces in the exhibit were in this space dedicated to his works on paper. Definitely less impressive than the works on canvas in terms of size, but just as precious in demonstrating his talent.
The oils on canvas record vignettes of ordinary life that Emong encounters in Zambales and in Manila. I enjoyed them for his wonderful sense of color, and occasional touches of humor. Taken together with his drawings, they made for an afternoon well spent.
Kariyanan runs from 10 to 27 April 2011 at Pinto Art Gallery, No. 1 Sierra Madre St., Grandheights Subdivision, Antipolo City. Phone (632) 697-1015 or visit http://www.pintoartmuseum.com