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Allegories for first timers.

Inside sore, bones sleepy, heart satisfied, young bare woman over a blob covered with blue sheet, either asleep or feeling the moment. Beautiful head rests on right side, black waist-length hair follows limp left limb and drops to pieces of a broken vase carelessly heaped on the floor.

It is Hermenegilda "Hilda" Manansala's first time. Now you know the metaphor of the damaged ceramic. A chalk pastel on 16" x 20" paper entitled "Female Nude" (undated) signed "Vicente Manansala" at the upper right corner, where is her lover?

Recording the moment, Vicente Manansala (1910-1981), perhaps still sweaty or red in his face, hurriedly seizes the once-in-a-lifetime moment, if life is kind, to lasting life.

The painting is now in the art collection of Ronna Manansala, fourth grandchild of Vicente and Hilda. Before passing on, Lola Hilda made Ronna choose from her collection of artworks left by her husband who was proclaimed National Artist in 1982. It was not the best of the lot but something in "Female Nude" appealed to Ronna that made her single it out. That was when Lola Hilda shared its intimate circumstance.

First time artworks are always involving. Jack Dawson (Leonardo Di Caprio) did it in reverse in Titanic. He sketched Rose Dawson Calbert (Kate Winslet) in the nude, the rare diamond Heart of the Ocean resting on her chest, they made love inside an automobile in the ship's cargo hold, made steamy by their hot breath.

When asked how they will paint or draw a woman's first time, artists -- as expected -- said they would use symbolisms.

Reptile hyperrealist Erwin Pineda had done the same as Manansala -- in less graphic detail. When it happened to a girlfriend, he asked to draw her naked. It was easy to convince her as she believes in art for art's sake. He posed her shyly, seated with her legs parallel in a pyramid position. Nothing is seen.

Suprarealist Mediana Eman Santos is experiential: A nude female clings to a bed sheet, closed eyes shedding a tear, hand touching the mouth and nose.

Environment activist Jonathan Benitez will depict it as a defiled pristine forest. Rendered in the shape of a naked woman's body, a road leads to a crossroad -- to the right to a highly urbanized city and to the left to the lair of spirits.

Initiator of the serigraph as fine art Rodolfo Samonte laughed it off. Through Private Message on Facebook, he sent a McSketch, his series of nude ink sketches on napkin paper drawn while having breakfast in McDonalds. Drawn from memory, it was the perfect chance art. He accidentally poured washable ink at the perfect spot to suggest vital fluid.

For Visionary artist Gromyko Semper, he created mythology for the first time. As the ultimate act of love, a man turns obsessed with a woman, the way Gala haunted Salvador Dali, Saskia stalked Rembrant. In the case of the male student-servant-model Salai, he pursued Leonardo Da Vinci. As Semper puts it, "You get attached to the one whose door you've broken down. You are like a remora, you can't live without a host, without a shark."

Semper who thinks of himself an "amateur writer of myths" rendered the first time as idealized obsession in the 3" x 4" acrylic and ink on canvas "The Binding of Metehuia" (2014).

In Fernalia's "Garden of Delights," the painting is full of mutations of sassafras with bromeliads, alabaster-skinned nude goddess Chianuia wrapped in diaphanous clothes of white and red, looking satisfied and gazing sun-burnt Metehuia who is bound shibari way, against a backdrop of agitated sea and peaceful sky, full moon shining behind the Tower of Ferraxio.

Four years before executing "The Binding of Metehuia," Semper would meet the major influences of his art: the visionary artists Marcel Antonio and Bruce Rimmell from Leeds-Bradford, Great Britain.

In 2009, Antonio invited Semper to a solo exhibit. Describing him as "one of the kindest, most down to earth, yet most learned, if I could say the most intelligent painter in the Philippines," Antonio often gave Semper advice on theories of art and art history, thus improving his knowledge in painting and composition. They invariably became close friends. Antonio also became his link to gallery owners, art collectors, renowned writers, and the literati.

Whenever the Cavite-based Semper comes to Manila, he would meet with Antonio who constantly sends him art books and novels as they bounced back on each other's artworks, thus influencing each other's art. Likewise, both became collectors of each other's paintings.

Both are part of the Europe-based art collective of "dreams and divinities" known as Visionary Art Movement, an offspring of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism under founder Professor Ernst Fuchs whose renowned members are his apprentices. Semper participates in all its group shows in Europe's museums.

Meeting Rimmell online in 2010, they eventually collaborated in inventing the mythology of the paradisical garden called Fernalia, the setting of a satire on Prometheus and Zeus featuring Metehuia and Tzihuia and a goddess from the Ocean Garden, Chianuia. After Tzihuia tries and fails to steal fire from people, he looks foolish and wants to punish Metehuia for escaping from his grasp.

Semper retells: "He goes to see Metehuia who is at the lake of the Waters of the Middle Place. The beautiful Chianuia emerges from the lake, coming from the Afer's secret Ocean Garden to seduce Tzihuia and Metehuia before they start arguing. She is happy to have both tricksters together. Metehuia is delighted at this, but Tzihuia becomes angry and refuses to participate.

"Laughing, Metehuia sings a prophecy that any child borne from Chianuia would be greater than Tzihuia, which Tzihuia cannot bear to hear. He flies into a rage and binds Metehuia to a rock next to the Waters, a process which Metehuia obviously enjoys, and which he insists Tzihuia must be enjoying also. Chianuia laughs at this. The moans of effort in binding Metehuia are satirised as moans of sexual pleasure, which only makes Tzihuia angrier still..."

Thus, the title "The Binding of Meteshuia."

With 105 international artists contributing to mythologizing Fernalia, Semper will spearhead the launch of the full color hardback book, "The

Encyclopedia of Fernal Affairs A Dreams & Divinities Book cataloguing 'The Garden of Fernal Delights.'" with an exhibit in a Metro Manila venue sometime last quarter of this year. The book is written by Semper, Liba W S and Bruce Rimell as designed and laid out by Liba W Stambollion.

The first time certainly leads to more.

CAPTION(S):

Gromyko Semper, The Binding Of Meteshuia

Manansala-Female Nude
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Title Annotation:Arts & Living
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Feb 17, 2014
Words:1092
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