Thursday, July 26, 2012

232. LETTER ART: Victoriano Caballero

While scrounging around for some worthy finds at the antique row of NLEX's Sta. Rita Exit, I came upon an old religious print of the "Virgen de la Paloma"--tattered beyond repair--framed in a crumbling gesso'd picture frame. It was a pity that the print could no longer be salvaged, it had large missing parts--but the dealer pointed out to some possible paper treasures found at the back of the picture. Indeed, 3 pieces of paper were found sandwiched between the frame and the print, acting as backboards.

I was immediately drawn to a 22 x18 sheet of browning paper--a watercolor letter art bearing the name "Victorino Caballero". Letter art was a popular Filipino past-time, and the best examples were the water color 'letras y figuras' creations in the 19th century. "Letras y Figuras" refer to an art form involving the painting of the letters of the alphabet by ingeniously forming their contour out of the shape of human figures, animals, plants, and other objects. The foremost proponent of these charming folk art pieces was Jose Honorato Lozano. 

Simpler letter art involved embellishing individual letters with design elements like floral motifs, just like this example, thus creating a new font style that is at once pleasing and beautiful. This, actually, is a memorial piece--bearing the name of the dear departed. Underneath Victorino's name are pencilled inscriptions--indicating that this was unfinished: "Namatay ng icadalauampo ng Octubre ng taong isang libo ualong daan at ualong po at lima" (Died on the 20th of October in the year 1885). This work certainly was done after 1885, maybe a few months or so after the departure of Victorino from this mortal world.

No comments:

Post a Comment