Art and travel are inseparable. We regularly experience this cliché when traveling. We often include in our itinerary visiting craft stores, local museums and art galleries to learn from folk arts and native crafts about a town’s historical and cultural heritage.
But we find ourselves more fortunate when we get to interact with local talents in their home studios. When visiting Paete, the home studio of artist Glenn Cagandahan has become part of our art pilgrimage in this lakeshore town. Here’s our interview with Glenn Cagandahan:
TOF: How did you get started in sculpture?
GLENN CAGANDAHAN: Simple lang ang istorya kung paano ako nagsimula sa sculpture, it all started with my Dada Isaac (Dada means Lolo) who was a master carver of Poons in our little town Paete Laguna, I was still in grade one when I start to have interest in carving madalas tumatambay ako sa ukitan ng Dada Isaac imbes na maglaro.
TOF: You are based in Paete, a town famous for its woodcarving traditions and master sculptors. But your sculpture is not made of wood. Why did you choose synthetic resin as material for your sculptures instead of traditional materials used in sculptures like wood, marble, brass, glass, or clay?
GLENN CAGANDAHAN: My basic training in sculpture was pure traditional Paete way of carving but i find the material wood limited “Limited” by means of composition marami akong nasa isip na hindi kayang ma-achieve by using wood. My medium in sculpture-making are basically wood, metal and epoxy clay. I never used resin in my sculpture because its strong odor, I never used molds in my process, making each of my sculpture one of a kind. All made by hands using Built-UP process.
TOF: You received formal training at the U.P. College of Fine Arts. Why were you drawn to sculpture and not painting? What is the most important lesson you’ve learned as a student of fine arts?
GLENN CAGANDAHAN: I find it more satisfying doing art in 3 dimensions, my body likes more movement, I want more laborious process, I want more perspiration. The most important lessons I learned in UP College of Fine Arts is to go by the rules and when you know the principles then you must defy them. UP Fine Arts taught me how to rebel against traditions breaking walls, setting new boundaries.
TOF: Who were the major influences in your development as an artist? Who are your favorite artists?
GLENN CAGANDAHAN: First of course the three giants in sculpture namely Michelangelo, Rodin, Henry Moore. Locally my favorites are Michael Cacnio, Jun Vicaldo and Luis Ac-ac.
TOF: Tell us about your art, themes and subjects. What is your inspiration for your colored riders?
GLENN CAGANDAHAN: My art is all about the Filipino traditions, values, faith, love, family etc. It all goes down to our core as a Filipino people. We are very relational. Ee value our family more than anything else. About my colored riders? I just love our carabaos! Everytime I see one here in Laguna siguradong titigil ako at pagmamasdan ko siyang mabuti, madalas pinipicturan ko pa.
TOF: Regarding commissions. What is your attitude towards doing commissioned work?
GLENN CAGANDAHAN: As much as possible I don’t like doing commissions because based from my experience there’s much tension and stress involved in the process mas gusto ko yung gawa na, you liked it then purchase it, you don’t like then don’t buy it. Mas madali diba?
TOF: The local art scene is so active now. A number of Filipino artists are being recognized internationally. What is your comment to those who say that genuine Filipino identity is lost in the current artsy world trends?
GLENN CAGANDAHAN: The Filipino identity will be never be lost as long as (the) youth will value our beliefs, tradition, etc… even in our modern age and Globalization (Global thinking). I think this is the best time to promote our heritage as a people because the world became small due to the internet. You can reach the other side of the planet in one click on the mouse.