The tableau of a loving child and mother is one that is very familiar to us in both the fine arts and popular culture. There is nothing that evokes emotion like the Maddona and Child, whether you’re talking about one of Raphael’s many depictions of the subject, or a simple TV commercial for children’s paracetamol. In the artwork entitled “Aruga” Rey Fuentes gives us another rendition of this touching theme, this time rendered in driftwood narra.
There is something very fitting about the use of narra to portray the uniquely loving relationship between a mother and her baby. Narra, after all, is the tree that we have chosen to symbolize our motherland. It is a hardwood that is said to be almost as lasting and durable as iron and far more rich and evocative in appearance. “Aruga” is a term that means “to care for” and only a substance as steadfast as the narra can approximate how strongly and fiercely a mother will protect and nurture her child.
“Aruga” is a teardrop-shaped wood carving that depicts a mother holding her baby close to her body. She is facing out to the viewer with her eyes closed as her child – with its back to us and his cheek pressed against her lips –nestles towards her to enjoy the caress. The artist places great emphasis on his subjects’ bodies and features, but his attention is focused to the middle of the piece where the action happens; the lower part of this piece is more roughly finished. Meanwhile, above the loving pair is a towering, arrow-shaped slab with a carved circular symbol in the middle that could stand for the sun or some other source of light or energy.
This is a powerful piece with a simple message. Unlike the ringleted, fair-faced, and delicate-featured Madonnas of mainstream Western art, we have a mother who has long straight hair, strong features, and a determined rather than a tender look on her face. This is a depiction of motherhood that focuses on the strength that must underlie the softness and gentility of a woman once she has a child.
To view or purchase this artwork, you can visit Chings Resto-Kaffee at the Jade Dragon’s Suites, one of the elegant yet cheap hotels in Davao City. At this Davao hotel, you’ll be treated not only to comfortable accommodations and good food but to an inspiring dose of local culture as well.