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By IGAN D'BAYAN, The Philippine Star Published Oct 04, 2020 5:00 pm Updated Oct 04, 2020 7:40 am

Watercolor is a taskmaster of a medium. It is — for lack of a more precise word — a bitch to master. You are dealing with colors that are fluid as well as hard to predict and control. No room for errors or erasures. Discipline and precision are crucial.

“In watercolor, your first stroke is your last,” explains Ernie Salas, chairman of Gallery Genesis. You are also handling moving water, the whiteness of paper substituting for the white paint. He adds, “You also have opportunities for accidental masterpieces. Unlike in oil or acrylic, you can do a particular piece only once, you cannot repeat it.”

Gallery Genesis, which has been holding its “Kulay Sa Tubig” watercolor competition for 32 years now, is set to announce its top five watercolorists and one hall-of-fame awardee in an event at the G/F Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall on Oct. 12, from 4 to 9 p.m. The exhibition, featuring over a hundred entries in watercolor, is on view until Oct. 18.

Salas disputes the former reputation of watercolor as a “practice medium.” He says not anymore since participants to Gallery Genesis’ watercolor competitions have included stellar names such as Manny Baldemor, Toti Cerda, Egai Fernandez and Pablo Baen Santos, among others. Salas says Kulay Sa Tubig has elevated the stature of watercolor works, his wife Chichi championing the medium early on.

Lester Rodriguez’s “Trigger Happy”

John Carlo “JC” Vargas’ “Melancholy”

Achilles “Uhky-Uhky” Estremos’ “Testing Faith”

Julian Eymard Paguiligan’s “Sweet Predictions”

Carlo Caacbay’s “Utopia: We Dream As One”

Jose “Happy” Navarro’s “Streets are Unpredictable”

Jean “Je An” Govinda Marquesto’s “Grandpa's Rafter”

Wilfredo “Yeye” Calderon’s “Pasig River”

Lester Rodriguez’s “Trigger Happy”

John Carlo “JC” Vargas’ “Melancholy”

Achilles “Uhky-Uhky” Estremos’ “Testing Faith”

Julian Eymard Paguiligan’s “Sweet Predictions”

Carlo Caacbay’s “Utopia: We Dream As One”

Jose “Happy” Navarro’s “Streets are Unpredictable”

Jean “Je An” Govinda Marquesto’s “Grandpa's Rafter”

Wilfredo “Yeye” Calderon’s “Pasig River”

CLOSE

Kulay Sa Tubig is a by-invitation-only tilt with mandatory pre-screening, informs Rhoda Salas. “The young artists even tell my mom, ‘Alam ninyo, ma’am, kahit piso lang maging premyo, walang kaso sa amin ’yan, sasali pa rin kami — what’s important is we get the letter of invitation.’ Other artists say it is an affirmation of their talent.” 

Ernie relates how young Pinoy artists who hail from Bicol and Davao or based in Singapore and Taiwan join Kulay Sa Tubig. “They travel from (faraway cities and towns) just to submit their works and compete against their peers,” he says.

The judges for this year are Tina Colayco, president of Metropolitan Museum of Manila; Felipe De Leon Jr., former chairman of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts; Millie Dizon, senior vice president for marketing communications of SM; senior curator Kenneth Esguerra of Ayala Museum; senior curator Patrick Flores of Vargas Museum; and renowned art critic and author Cid Reyes.

If last year’s opening night was held in a jam-packed art space of Globe Tower in Bonifacio Global City, this upcoming Kulay Sa Tubig event is much, much different.

“If not for the pandemic, we would pack the Fashion Hall also,” shares Patrice Salas, noting that all the safety measures will be observed in the venue. It will also be streamed live on Facebook and with a Virtual Art Gallery component.

It is essential to honor artists who have earned their place in the art scene, concludes Ernie, but competitions such as Kulay Sa Tubig are also about recognizing young and emerging ones. Those who have yet to make a name for themselves. The artists who are working solitarily in their studios, moving water, stroking magic, and trying to catch rainbows across surfaces of immaculate paper.

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“Kulay Sa Tubig” is on view at SM Megamall from Oct. 12 to 18. Seventy-five percent of the gross profit from the art competition and exhibition proceeds will be will be used in purchasing face masks, personal protection equipment, and other essential medical items for the frontliners of UP PGH. For information, visit www.gallerygenesis.com.