Anybody can be a painter, but not everyone can be a printmaker.
It is a statement that printmaker-visual artist Fil Delacruz shared with us in our short conversation during the opening of the Of Art and Wine: 20/30 A Limited Edition Print Exhibit at the Conrad Manila’s Gallery C.
He enthused that printmaking is a highly technical medium. One can’t just practice printmaking because it requires certain equipment. Apart from that, a printmaker needs to have technical know-how.
“Before I have started working on other media, I was known as a printmaker. What makes me excited about printmaking? You work in reverse. You do mirror image. If you want to draw a figure with your right hand, you need to draw on the left hand,” said Delacruz who shared that printmaking was his first love.
Aside from the technical process, not knowing what the final print will look like is one of its attractions.
“With painting, you get simultaneous gratification because you see the figure as you paint. In printmaking, you can’t see the final product until you go to the press and print it. Sometimes, it is very rewarding. But other times, it can be frustrating because it doesn’t come out the way you want it,” he related.
As Delacruz puts it, they don’t enjoy the final print. Printmakers enjoy the tedious process that requires patience and determination for artistic excellence.
It doesn’t have to be a big work to call it monumental. To appreciate a good print, one has to look not at the scale but the execution, the quality of the work, and the technical know-how of the artists. Once you know the process, you will appreciate printmaking.
Delacruz shared that he does double reverse, where he usually starts with engraving the dark areas then burnishing them to put the highlight. He also incorporates linear tonal values.
For Sulyap, his artwork on display at Gallery C, Delacruz makes use of mezzotint and engraving, with portions made using a special etching technique that combines both acid and non-acid intaglio processes in one print.
His work features a diwata, a recurring image in his body of work. He admitted that finding a theme or image to work on has been a challenge to him until he found inspiration from diwata.
“I was inspired by beautiful native while living in the South. It became my muse. Before, whenever I was in front of the plate, I always asked myself what would I do. But now, I just think about diwata – how I will present her today, how will I interact with her,” said the printmaker.
Sulyap is one of the featured prints in the 20/30 A Limited Edition Print Exhibit. The title of the exhibit refers to the conventions for numbering prints reproduced from a single plate.
The exhibit is presented in cooperation with the Cultural Center of the Philippines, through its Visual Arts and Museum Division, and the Association of Pinoy Printmakers. This is the second time that the CCP, AP, and Conrad collaborated with Masters of Print exhibit back in 2017 being the first.
“We are delighted to celebrate both our successful 5th year of operations and market leadership through the continued patronage of our guests and resiliency of our team, together with the 50th Year Anniversary of the CCP,” shares Conrad Manila general manager Linda Pecoraro, adding “we recognize the CCP’s continued passion and pursuit of Filipino artistry and excellence together with the Association of Pinoyprintmakers, as we hope to inspire others in our continued recovery as one nation.”
A valuable tip from Nestor Jardin, former CCP president: This exhibit has good print collection. So, if you are looking to invest in artworks but have limited budget, this is a good start.
“Commercially, prints are more affordable than oil and acrylic paintings. So, the younger collectors who are just beginning to afford and appreciate artworks can start with acquiring prints. Subsequently, they eventually graduate to other media,” said Jardin.
If you collect these folios, you have a Bencab, a Sanso, a Borlongan, Elmer Borlongan, Raul Isidro, Ofelia Gelvenzon-Tequi, Imelda Cajipe-Endaya, Jonathan Olazo, among others. One of the featured works is by Neil Doloricon, who passed away during the pandemic; one of his last works.
For the exhibit, the print portfolio comes in two special sets. The first set features works by masters. The second set highlights works by young printmakers such as Joey Cobcobo, Lenores RS Lim, Wesley Valenzuela, Sunchin Teoh, Renan Ortiz, Noell El Farol, Salvador Ching, Yas Doctor, and more.
The folios are exquisite artworks in relief printing, intaglio, and serigraph printing. There are also woodcut and rubber cut prints. There are also created highly detailed drypoint prints. There are also restrike by Juvenal Sanso and the late Rod Paras-Perez dated 1963.
According to Delacruz, that’s one of the good things about printmaking. If you have the plates, you can do a restrike. And that makes printmaking a lasting art form.
“Printmaking is here to last. There are different styles and media that are coming out, mostly digital. But they still have to pass the test of time. Traditional printmaking is lasting. When you see a Rembrandt, made in 17th century, it still has high artistic value,” shared Delacruz.
As our conversation comes to an end, someone from the group asked about making beautiful mistakes in printmaking. For the uninitiated, correcting plates in printmaking is a tedious process. Because when you engrave, you can’t put the metal back. You have to scrape it all over again using sharp tools to remove errors and put corrections.
But as Delacruz good-naturedly said: “Artists never commit mistakes. If ever, it leads to new discovery. It is part of the artistic process.”