By Sem. Kendrick Ivan B. Panganiban
with permission from CBCP News
Dec. 14, 2018
This December, renowned Bulakeño artist Ernesto “Aris” Bagtas Jr. unveiled new neo-realism-inspired artwork created in honor of San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila, the first Filipino saint.
Installed at Bulwagang San Lorenzo Ruiz, at the Philosophy Department of the Immaculate Conception Major Seminary (ICMAS) in this town, the artwork features materials like old tape recorders and broken musical instrument and computer parts.
“I wanted to present in this work that each story in the life of a person is recorded, registered so to speak, and is a standard that leads people to the right path and to the spirit of the faith,” said Bagtas.
‘Charged by the Cross’
Donated to the institution by ICMAS professor Fr. Edgardo C. De Jesus, a known patron of Bagtas, the said mixed media artwork was welcomed by the seminary community led by ICMAS rector Fr. Emmanuel I. Cruz and Construction Committee Director Fr. Eugene C. Cruz.
Commenting on the cellphone that appears to be plugged into the cross, Bagtas said: “We see how cellphones are important among people and these devices need to get charged. Now I placed an old cellphone as is it were charged through the Cross of Christ. This is an important part of the artwork that shows us how despite our thinking that we are lacking when we do not get the attention we need, yet in believing God and hearing his Word, we become energized by him. It is a multimedia message relevant to our time.”
Bagtas also explained how the artwork wanted to show the saint’s personal journey of faith.
“San Lorenzo Ruiz, a young man and a family man reminds us that being poor is not a hindrance to be a good person or even a saint. In this artwork, I wanted to present how sacrifice and following God is truly a journey, as seen in the different events in his life in the sides of the painting,” he said.
The seminary community lauded the arrival of the said artwork, which not only made good use of old materials but also communicated a remarkable message through symbols and color. Originating from Obando, Bulacan, Bagtas has come to be known in many parts of the diocese for his contributions in the form of liturgical art in several churches, among them the Immaculate Conception Parish – Cathedral & Minor Basilica, Malolos City; National Shrine and Parish of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City, Santissima Trinidad Parish, Malolos City; Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish, Pulong Buhangin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan among others.
The Macuha Art Gallery describes Bagtas’ art as “neo-realism style (that) is reflected in the way he uses what he calls ‘traditional subjects’ while painting them using contemporary methods.”