Art & Design Magazine

The Gloomy Side Of Children

By Lalay Fuster @lalayfuster

Spearheaded by the Arts Department of the University, Banhay – the exhibit that showcased the masterpieces of Paete Artists Guild – was brought to life during the early months of 2011. Luckily, I was chosen to be one of the official photographers, and I automatically got the privilege to marvel “tangibly” and “intangibly” at their artworks.

I would admit that all of those artistic fruits deserve high esteem. Each possessed with its own unique and inherent beauty. However, there were three paintings that struck my eyes, thus moved me to come up with a formal critique. Their titles: The Kiss, Ingay, and Oops. What made these paintings attractive to my eyes, and I would say, intriguing to my mind? I had a lot of answers: the subjects, their eyes, their gestures, the colors applied, and the stories behind.

To lightly start off, I like children, but let me qualify a bit, CUTE children. In the case of Odette Cagandahan’s artworks, no doubt, the subjects are cute. Notice that at the sight of these, you just end up uttering expressions like, “awwww…”, “cutteeee”, et. al. During those months, I was not satisfied to look at these, one time, big time. As a matter of fact, I went back to the exhibit for a good number of times just to dwell on them. Those marvels continued, as I have taken advantage of the “official photographer privilege”, that is to have the soft copy photos of the paintings.  And I asked myself, “What’s with these kids?”.


The Gloomy Side Of Children

Yeah, they’re cute. But there’s more into their “cuteness”. At the exhibit, I was almost at frustration’s peak, when I finally found out that “something special”. At first look, you get to be distracted by the lips, nose, forehead, hands, or whatever other auxiliaries. But in the end, you realize that you are already drowned with the most captivating part – their tantalizing eyes. There’s a saying, “the eyes are the windows of the soul”. True enough. Even these paintings testify to such quotation. When you look at these children, it’s as if they tell you, “look at me, as in intensely”. Creepy as it may seem, but yes, it’s like hypnotism! Once you have been captured, you get to see the story behind. And what is that story? That you only get to know, when you look at their moves and their colors.

The Kiss “Baby”, with its facial expression and colors, depicts simplicity, daring, warmth and affection that a child is capable of giving without any reserve. If you only get to see this work “in person”, you’ll definitely be awed, for it was painted on such a humongous canvas. With my estimation, if you let this child go out of the picture, her lips will land on your entire face, and not just your cheeks! Deeply, I’ve thought that this also holds in reality. When a child kisses you, his affection (but above all his love) overwhelms you completely. A child’s kiss might just be a simple expression of warmth, yet any person who receives it is sure that it has no admixture of pretense and deceit.


The Gloomy Side Of Children

But there are times I also wonder if gloominess has a space in children’s minds, or their hearts (whichever is more appropriate). And that idea was triggered when I stared at the children portrayed in Ingay and in Oops. Just like what I did in the first painting, I looked at their eyes and into their “souls”. And there was a big difference. What I found out that time, were cold, down casted, poignant eyes. The mood was even intensified with the use of dull colors that vary from blue to gray and the obstructing presence of dark hair on their faces. Dreariness reached its climax with their absorbing inanimate actions. When I looked at Ingay “Boy” and Oops “Girl”, I felt guilty. As if I was a megaphone who deafens him with all unnecessary talk. As if I was the reason why he got tired of all the noise. As if I was the person whom she so hated. As If I was a criminal who deprived her of something. All of these and many other unmentioned circumstances, embitter children’s innocence, speed up their “maturity”, and hinder them from keeping their love burning. Child abuse, drug addiction, and many other threats: aren’t these things being faced by the children of our society? But their sun kissed skins, though juxtaposed with the uninteresting monochrome, represents a child’s struggle. Despite deprivation, it gives a picture that a child has always something to hold on to – a piece of hope. Is there such a thing as “the gloomy side of children”? Maybe. And how I hope it doesn’t get fully nurtured.

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