By Sheryl Quiambao; Artwork Photos from artist.
Two openings that featured her work fell on the same week, which makes fourth and fifth of the eight shows she’s part of this year. On both occasions, she carried a joyful presence that is very hard to miss. At the “Portraits of Nature” of the Portrait Artists Society of the Philippines (PASPI) held on August 7, a rainy Wednesday evening in Gateway Gallery, attended by some of the prominent figures in the city such as Congresswoman Lucy Torres-Gomez and Ms. Stella Marquez-Araneta and the art critic Cid Reyes; her cheerful presence was unaffected by the weather. Then came Saturday, August 10 at the opening of Pastel Puro, a back-to-back show with Gary Carabio, a Filipino pastel artist based in Florida and a member of the Masters’ Circle; where we formally conversed. Her countenance is the same, eager to express joy and gratitude to all those who came. How could she not? For someone given a second chance in making art, an endeavor she thought has escaped her; the experience elates like rekindling with a childhood friend and humbling as if getting a second life.
Celeste’s return to art was incidental, which she took in order to cope with her life. Coloring books were the trend at the time but it sparked her love for art. “Colorista talaga ako eh,” (a term she identifies with coloring book enthusiasts), she bashfully admits to Lisa Macuja in an interview. To her, coloring books are beyond hobbies but a way of expression like painting and music. Through this, she built a community via social media, and even went to host over-coffee coloring events and sketching pages for other coloristas to enjoy.
A turning point came to her in 2016, when she attended a 3-day summer workshop by UP Fine Arts professor Yasmin Almonte, which gave her the confidence to do artworks in full scale. That said workshop was her only formal art training. Now she does large artworks, currently finishing five by four feet canvasses and works with choice acrylics and soft pastels.
Even so, she does not shy away from traditional realism; in fact, she showcased pastel paintings in this form in her recent shows. Equus, a life-size horse sculpture placed in front of a mirror reflecting the view of a garden across the hall is one artwork that overrides space limitations posed by indoor settings. Meanwhile her “Sisterhood” series – all done in pastels on aluminum panels, she both captured Filipina virtues and the nostalgia of the colonial era, pushing the possibilities of her medium.
Hasn’t it been so quick for her? Turns out, the statement at the beginning was her guiding principle in making art. Though unknowingly, Lecaroz has preserved hers all along, like a treasure waiting to be uncovered in due time. All she needed is to master the medium.
Earlier this year Fernando Sena, the father of Philippine art workshops went on to predict her future as a giant in the arts. But for now, she enjoys painting and collaborating – before the month ends she joined another group show with her alma mater; followed by two shows, one being with historian Bernardita Reyes-Churchill called ‘Center and Periphery’ which is on view at the NCCA Gallery in Intramuros starting on the 2nd of September. Undaunted and relentless, she makes the most to create and share her art.