Style Living Self Celebrity Geeky News and Views
In the Paper BrandedUp Hello! Create with us Privacy Policy

The uncanny lightness of Daniel de la Cruz’s women

By SCOTT GARCEAU, The Philippine STAR Published Apr 22, 2024 5:00 am

There’s joyousness to Daniel de la Cruz’s women in his upcoming show Unbridled, running April 25-May 4 at Greenbelt 5’s Galleria Nicolas. They’re stretching out, aspiring, reaching to the heavens, supporting one another. The brass forms are intimately scaled, detailed, and yet another evolution in the sculptor’s innovative technique—not to mention his take on women.

Unbridled is very much my view of how women are now,” says de la Cruz during our preview dinner. “They’re no longer burdened with the traditional views of what a woman should be or should not be. They are now very much empowered, very much their own person.” It’s been over a decade since his debut show, also devoted to women. “My first show, my take on women was really all about motherhood, taking care of the house, being a strong mother figure. The traditional mother and child,” the artist says. “But now it’s totally different. We have a very different view of women, and hopefully I’m expressing it through the works in my show.”

Artist Daniel de la Cruz with Unbridled

Call it a re-examination. Because one thing de la Cruz hates to do is “repeat” himself. So he looked at what makes women so unique. “There’s this interesting conflict. I could never separate the fact of women as mothers, from being women,” he muses. Whereas “men will always just be men, there is a nurturing side that only women have. And to be able to blend that nurturing side with courage and great determination, I think, is just something not even men can aspire to.”

And When She Wanted, She Could

His female figures are anchored to geometric pillars, monoliths and pyramids by a single point—a feat in itself. Stretching out, touching the skies and lifting one another up, the forms—voluptuous from most angles—can almost appear weightless. It’s a balancing act between grace and hidden strength. “That’s the beauty of working with metal, actually: its strength.”

The artist uses brass with silvery electroplating to convey a contrast between the baser, rougher lower form and the smoother “contemplative” regions above—almost a Renaissance dichotomy. But Renaissance women were mostly idealized, not given this balance of physical weight and contemplation.

Conquers Fears

Growing up, his parents expected Pasig native de la Cruz to become “a doctor or lawyer,” but he ventured instead into ceramic décor design for export (“Santa Clauses and snowmen and the like”), eventually working with Villeroy and Boch in Germany. By age 39, he wanted something more creative and expressive, and chose sculpture because it was the “most challenging.” He’s developed his own techniques for grafting metal pieces, working in intricate hair, flowing dresses and clothes in his forms. Then, of course, there are his large-scale pieces, like the crucifixion displayed at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in BGC: projects that require teams of workers and scaffolding. “It’s actually easier to work in large scale,” he insists.

Touching the Moon

The pieces in “Unbridled” are more intimate. Working small-scale has that advantage—and added challenge. ““People don’t understand it’s harder to work that way. They don’t always equate size to price,” he says. “‘Can you make it half the size, and half the price?’ No!”

Art collector Carmina Sanchez Jacob was at the preview dinner and recalled buying one of de la Cruz’s metal balloons at Art in the Park a while back—while fending off a voracious Pepito Albert, who was also eyeing the last two pieces. She got a black balloon with a built-in catch that fastens to the ceiling, so to observers it just looks like a party balloon that escaped a kid’s grip and floated upwards. That’s kind of the beauty and paradox of Daniel de la Cruz’s work: using the heaviest materials to convey a lightness, a buoyancy. His women in “Unbridled” are no exception. And there’s another advantage to sculpting in metal:

“The nice thing about metal is it’s something that’s going to outlive you. A hundred years from now, that piece will be there. It’s not going to fall apart. It’s not gonna break. It’s not gonna get crushed.”

Another metaphor, perhaps, for the endurance, the enigma and paradox of women.

* * *

“Unbridled” by Daniel dela Cruz runs from April 25 to May 4. Galleria Nicolas Greenbelt is located at 3F, Greenbelt 5, Legazpi Street, Makati City. For inquiries, contact Galleria Nicolas at ÓÓ+63 îÓ936 225 1226 or email [email protected].