Monday, May 28, 2012

Manny Baldemor paints lovely Switzerland

Tonight, I accepted the invitation of the Ambassador of Switzerland to attend the opening reception of a very special art exhibition at the Ayala Museum (until July 1) for the paintings of Switzerland by the painter Manuel Baldemor. The paintings were done over years, although many were done in the last two years.

Looking at the different paintings of beautiful Switzerland by Mr. Baldemor, it was interesting to see how his style has evolved from the very intricately painted works of art he has become famous for to – what seems to me – a more relaxed style of painting that involves bold strokes with a palette knife but nevertheless combined here and there with charming details.


A large painting of a mountain scene, for instance, was a whole sea of different colors of green; but in several places, he’d painted tiny little houses that were utterly captivating. Later I got to speak to him and I got to know more about his paintings of Switzerland.

Apparently, his recent batch was painted over a period of three months, and the oils were based on watercolors that he’d made on the spot in Switzerland. Many of them, too, were painted in Basel, where he has a studio. I really enjoyed looking at all his paintings.

Interestingly, last Friday, I'd visited the home of the Austrian ambassador to see his wife, and she showed me her beautiful interpretations of Philippine scenes like Mayon Volcano and the Banaue Rice Terraces, but in Chinese watercolor style.

And then tonight I saw Manny Baldemor, our own famous Philippine painter, exhibiting his interpretations of Swiss scenes and Swiss landmarks like the Matterhorn and Lake Geneva.

Then as I was taking a photo of a large painting of the Matterhorn, done in 2012, with my Blackberry camera, a guy came up to me to make small talk. He asked: “Which one’s your favorite?”

I looked around. The painting of the Matterhorn might be seen as something of a cliché, but it was quite dramatic and it certainly caught my eye. So I smiled and pointed to the Matterhorn painting.

I guess it was then my turn to ask him which one he liked, so I did. And he led me across the room to another 2012 landscape painting, but this time without anything iconic -- just lots of greenery, a bit of a lake, and the Swiss Alps in the background.

It made me remember how my friend Marivic and I had gone on a girls' painting trip to Switzerland many years ago, where we spent the most part of a truly enjoyable European summer perched on the centuries-old stone ledges of a tiny mountain hamlet painting watercolors of nature. That still counts as one of my most enjoyable trips to date, in a rather long and eventful Travelife.


This led to a rather lengthy conversation about a couple of things under the sun including living in Malaysia and in Tokyo. Interestingly, he’d also lived in Tokyo before.

And he was a great traveler too. He told me a pretty fantastic story about a trip to the most middle of nowhere I can think of, that he’d done when he was younger. I'd never heard of anyone who'd actually been to that part of the world before. I extracted a promise from him to write about it for Travelife Magazine.

He said: “I can’t write. I can travel but I can’t write.”

I replied: “That’s no problem. My editors can write and edit but they can’t do the traveling for you.”

He said: “I wouldn’t know where to begin…

I smiled at him. I’d heard that line a hundred times before from some of the most reluctant writers on the planet. So I said: "That's what they all say until they see their first article in print..."

Just another day in a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.


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