Nune Alvarado

SAGAY HANGOVER. When a beam of sunlight entered my half-opened eyes, it felt like there was scrambled eggs cooking out my brain. I shut my eyes tight while I lay in bed regretting why I had too much of those happy Red Horses. I looked out into the window where the whipping wind touching my face and the view of the endless blue sea made my distressing hangover more bearable. From a room next to mine, I heard familiar singing from one of my drinking buddies last night. It was Noy Pillora of the popular 1970s folk rock band, Asin.

I gingerly walked my way into the remote beach where I found the host of last night’s drinking session, artist Nune Alvarado. There he sat on gray sand from across his art studio painting not on a mural-sized canvas or sketchpad but on smooth round pebbles that he gathered from the beach.

ATALYER ALVARADO. Nune’s studio is a hand-hewn, hand-woven, hand-painted art fortress that towered as a huge art installation in a neighborhood of beach resorts at the Old Sagay town of Sagay City in Negros Occidental. Built from repurpose wood, bamboo and painted with loud tropical hues, sea breeze would sweep through the slatted bamboo walls and flooring.

Atalyer Alvarado is like a cocoon that the famous Negros artist calls home and a respite to his friends who stays a day or two in this two-bedroom rustic structure.

ART OF ALVARADO. In the 1970s, Nune became an outstanding artist of protest art. This art movement can be traced to the period beginning with the institution of the Martial Law to post-EDSA People Power Revolution as part of a bigger art movement: Social Realism. During that period, the country was tormented by extremes of social injustices, corruption, and poverty.

These painful social scenarios have inspired and angered artists like Nune to draw and paint his iconic human forms with veiny arms and legs almost like cadavers alluding hunger and hard labor along with reoccurring symbol-laden creatures like serpents, insects and birds with spiky thorns and dagger-sharp edges in folksy tropical colors. Although not clear but his color choices and human forms may have been influenced by the Angry Christ mural of Alfonso Ossorio in Victorias.

LOOKING BACK AT ALBARAKO CAFE. To sit down with Nune over breakfast and meals at Café Albarako was to listen to his stories from his humble beginnings to the events that led to his incarceration during Martial Law.

Born on May 5, 1950 in a farming community at Pabrika, Sagay City, he quit farm life at age 18 and took up advertising at La Consolacion College in Bacolod City and later painting at University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts. During the Martial Law years, he participated in protest rallies where he applied sarcasm and mockery in banners and effigies to criticize the excesses and abuses of the Marcos government.

ART-MAKING BY THE BEACH. At his art studio in Sagay, Nune begins and ends his day making art. He could be sitting by the beach painting on smooth rocks or together with his son Nuklar decorating the bamboo posts of Albarako Café and boats with loud tropical colors or drawing his spiky creatures and sharply jagged edged human figures on homemade paper that his wife, Sally made from recycled newspaper.

EPILOGUE: SOCIAL REALISM IS TIMELESS. Nune laments on how history is repeating because Filipinos forget the lessons of history, the injustices and political corruption of the past. If we think about it, we need intrepid social realists like Nune. We need them today.

Published in: on July 3, 2018 at 3:18 am  Leave a Comment  

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