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Evening at the Dumanjug town plaza

/ 12:29 PM October 27, 2013

An evening at the Dumanjug town plaza, the end of October, 2013. This evening must be set to paint, soon. The lights receding into the distance, the monument of Don Dionisio Jakosalem rising at the center seemingly pulled by a pair of effeminate horses; and then the children, running about on the grass playing ball or just walking.

There is, of course, laughter set amidst the rhythmic bouncing of balls from hands in the distance. Much closer, a gay conversation at the next table weaving itself into his thoughts. Thoughts that eventually will work themselves into this little picture that waits to form on paper. The conversation is marked by a local accent for the usual gay-code bouncing like pingpong balls across the table. He has no desire to decipher the code. The conversation is for him only ambient sound.

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But as everything inevitably find themselves into the painting, as for instance, the sing-song of birds then the sound of this conversation is in a way essential. They talk about the number of teeth they still have in comparison to each other. Coy laughter. It is only sound. It means nothing as important as the color of darkness.

Which is not black. Darkness is a mix of reds and blues the way Van Gogh would have painted it. No bright colors in the night unless from the lights which seem to explode from the lamp posts. They are not spirals. They are spiderwebs and starbursts.

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The light hides more than it shows. There are eight pieces of sculpture here neatly arranged at the edges. They are idealisms of local themes: the fisherman, the workman, the mother with child, the itinerant vendor, the soldier, the farmer, the teacher, etc. They are charming the way they mark their age by their manner of dress, the way their hair is done, the way they look, the expressions on their faces. They would bring us to the 1930s. We do not look that way anymore. Nor do we look at the world that way. There is an expression of innocence about them. We are jaded by comparison. At least one of these sculptures is signed by an R. A. Sarmiento who advertised himself as a sculptor and painter from Carcar.

At night, bathed in the intense brightness of lights set rather low to reflect the local sense of appropriate height for lighting of this sort, these sculpture seem almost invisible they are only dark shadows with a hairline about them. They stand on fat pedestals of white concrete. But even as dark figures in the shadows they have the more important story to tell.

They stand silent and yet lay claim to the fact they have been here longer than anyone else on this park. They are less ephemeral than anyone of us. It is only right then that we should be lighted, not them. Lighted this way, we would forget they are there at all. Though they have watched us over many decades. They survived the war many generations ago. Generations have passed since. They are still here frozen where they are. We think this fact results only from their lifelessness. They are concrete. They stay in place. The children are bones and sinew. They move.

This is what we need to capture in this painting, this distance between flesh and stone. The children running about are shades of light blurred by the fact of their movement. The sculpture dark as they are will have the sharper edges to mark their steadfast immobility. The only question would be where the moon is in this light. It must be there somewhere. Perhaps it is only biding its time to rise, or hide behind clouds. Not to worry. A painting is always what is imagined. Never how it really is.

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TAGS: column, Dumanjug town plaza, opinion
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