I got an email from an art lover who asked me if a certain painting that he found hanging in an antique thrift shop in Bangkal, Makati was authentically mine. He described the painting on wood as whimsical, with a tattooed man trying to reach over for some things and a bag with the word shop. There was no picture attached on the email and I could not remember this painting at all, but somehow it did sound familiar. I requested for a photo and replied some clues about my usual works. The clues did match.
I was thinking maybe someone tried to rip-off my works and labelled my name then sold it around. But why me?! when there are more talented artists with big names around! Ripping-off unheard-of but existing artists, is this the new modus in art? Feels kinda flattering, but I don't think it's logical at this very early point of my artistic career, and no, not me please, there are much better than me out there! I'm just glad it wasn't the case, haha.
Meanwhile, I looked in my digital and printed files for photos and documentation. I could not find any matches and I still can't remember the painting described. How can I just forget this painting, when I treat all of my works like my children-I do remember each one of them. I got so intrigued-how did it end up in a flea shop? When most of my past works are either given to a friend, piled in our house, or "recycled" for new ones? I have never seriously sold a painting in the past as far as I know.
After several days, I finally got the photo. I was in shock when I saw the painting, it was indeed mine. Every memory I had with the painting suddenly rushed in. Having not seen for several years and looking at it now makes me appreciate it more. It was made when I was inspired by Japanese art, spontaneous or chance painting, and stamping, hence the "woodblock" style tweaked in Filipino theme: our eternal quest for one true identity.
The photo above shows the details of the painting pasted at the back with our past apartment address for more than ten years and now nonexistent phone numbers. I think this is the last and the "transitional" painting I made in that apartment, then we finally moved to our own house after most of us graduated. This is probably the reason why I completely forgot about my poor painting.
I think I made this piece for the Asean Art Awards, obviously it wasn't successful on that competition but I wonder how it made through the hands of a couple. I can't remember if I gave it to them or how and why did I forget to claim it afterwards, I don't have any clues. I value every contest piece I make because I worked and thought hard for them.
What if the art lover didn't see my painting and inform me about it? I could have forgotten this work forever! What if he didn't get it away from the thrift shop? It might have fallen on the wrong hands and kept me from it! I am very grateful that he gave me the chance to see this painting again, and finally wrote my signature, like blessing a lost child with a name and an identity.