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What's the story behind that big abstract painting along EDSA?

By Dexter Matilla Published Mar 19, 2021 6:43 pm

The COVID-19 pandemic cut most of us down to size. But Lloyd Tronco decided to fulfill a life-long dream to go big. As big as an imposing EDSA billboard to be exact.

Tronco has painted abstracts before and has had exhibitions over the course of his adult life. 

But even as a child, he has already been exposed to the arts as the contemporaries of his father Larry included National Artists such as Victorio Edades, Cesar Legazpi, and Arturo Luz. 

Many assumed that the younger Tronco would be following in his father’s footsteps and become an artist. But for Tronco, he had always been set on becoming an architect partly because his dad was so big and recognized then that he “could not fill his shoes”.

Eventually, he got into the University of the Philippines to take up architecture. But on the eve of his final exams, his father passed away and Tronco decided to go home to Bacolod and shifted to Fine Arts Major in Advertising at La Consolacion College. He likewise helped his mother run the family business.

The abstract artwork is best seen from the EDSA-Ortigas flyover going south.

Soon after, Tronco took over and while business was still good, he received a call from McCann-Erickson, which needed an outdoor advertising specialist as tarpaulin printing became the norm during the ‘90s.

He then found himself back in Manila to handle the billboard and out-of-home media requirements of the firm’s big corporate clients.

In 2005, he left the advertising giant and started his own SME-sized media placement agency. But the call of the arts always remained at the back of his mind. 

“Last October 2020, I closed the business I started, signaling a shift from outdoor advertising to art,” Tronco says. 

And what better way to commemorate that shift than with a billboard-size artwork near the location of two EDSA revolutions? 

It is also a statement on democratizing art.

Measuring 230 square meters, “Alab ng Sining” is the largest abstract painting in the Philippines. It was completed in time for February’s National Arts Month with the help of four people who spread out the vinyl canvas on Tronco’s backyard and required the use of 10 gallons of acrylic paint. Another eight people helped put up the finished work, which is best seen from the EDSA-Ortigas flyover going south. 

“Alab ng Sining”, which Tronco personally financed in full, is a colorful expression of his love for art and all it represents. In completing this, he says it goes beyond thinking out of the box as this particular work is his way of thinking out of the frame. 

From another angle, Tronco says that it can also be a commentary on social distancing since this enormous artwork is best seen from afar.

“It is also a statement on democratizing art,” Tronco says. “It’s good that art is thriving now and we respect the role of galleries, auction houses, and museums for the resurgence but art really belongs to the people.”

Lloyd Tronco takes a selfie with his abstract billboard at the background.

So far, there have been inquiries regarding the sale of the artwork with some even suggesting putting it up for auction. But “Alab ng Sining” will remain in its current location until the end of March after which, Tronco is thinking of moving it somewhere else in Manila or maybe even bringing it to the provinces. 

The price for the artwork is P1 million, with half of the sales set to benefit Kalipay Negrense Foundation Inc., a non-profit foundation working for the causes of disadvantaged children.

Abstract art, Tronco says, is his place of comfort as “there are so many emotions that are expressed by it through the choice of color, the treatment of lines, and ultimately the composition.”