When you think of Filipino paintings, the image that often comes to mind is that of an idyllic landscape or an idealized depiction of farmers and barrio lasses in sunlit fields a la Fernando Amorsolo. Indeed, this kind of painting remains popular despite the influx of many new painting techniques and ideas. Filipino painters continue to depict the beautiful Philippine landscape and the Filipino peasant at work because these concepts remain at the heart of our national identity. Rodney Yap gives this time-honored genre a slightly modern twist in his acrylic on canvas painting called “Gathering Coconuts.”
“Gathering Coconuts” may not be executed in the usual realistic manner, but it still allows a great deal of the Filipino spirit to shine through. This painting is done in a more contemporary style, almost like a storybook illustration. Like Amorsolo’s work, it seems to be influenced by the Impressionists and their love affair with light. This painting is not strictly representational, but it does seek to capture the effects of light and shade on an almost fairy tale landscape.
In the realm where “Gathering Coconuts” takes place, the sky is a lovely turquoise blue and the rainbow filters down into the foliage. The light that glimmers between the trees is lemon, purple and peach, and the little human figures seem almost an afterthought in the midst of this fanciful depiction of the rural landscape. Interestingly, while this painting is about gathering coconuts it is not a coconut tree but another type of tree entirely that dominates the center of the painting. Around this large and generous figure, the slim coconut palms bend their graceful bodies. On the ground below is a generous scattering of the coconuts and a couple of men who are busy collecting them. In the foreground is a small bunch of fruits that helps add more depth to this painting.
This work is lovely viewed up close or from a distance. Either way, it will always give the onlooker the feeling that he is intruding upon a bucolic paradise. This is an idealised moment of peace in the countryside where life can often be harsh in the midst of nature’s bounty.
Anyone interested in seeing or even buying this painting can simply go to the Jade Dragon’s Suites, one of the best cheap hotels in Davao City. It hangs in Chings Resto-Kaffee, a coffee shop and art gallery on the premises of the aforementioned Davao hotel.