Inspiration for Filipino sculptor, Merlito Gepte, comes from a variety of sources in his life. Politics, ordinary lives of Filipinos, and the human anatomy have all been important in the development of his intricate work. The artist behind the statue has earned many recognition and awards in the Philippines for his meticulous movement of his skillful hands that he honors the female form.
Gepte’s artistic influences came from Michelangelo, Bernini, and especially his father who was a craftsman and artist who specialized in making figurines. His early recollection of his childhood in Pampanga was his time with his father tutoring him his skill of sculpture creation. As a kid, he would watch his father make religious statues and teaching his own students arts and crafts—little did his father would know that his son will follow his footsteps and be a multi-awarded artist.
According to Gepte, he considers himself a late bloomer despite his early groundwork with his father. Unaware of the robust art community and the business of art-making, he only entered the scene as a professional artist in his 50s. Just like his father, his work as a production designer for an export company and as a teacher, used up most of his time for many years. Not until a chance meeting with artist, Seb Chua (who I featured here and here), began a series of circumstances that will lead him to the life of unsullied art that he was always meant to be.
Through the backing and assistance of Chua, Gepte slowly found his way in the art world. By attending art exhibits and charting the creatives allowed him to appreciate himself in the context of the present-day contemporary art scene. Despite his lacking of formal fine arts training that was enjoyed by most artists, his phenomenal works attest that true artistic beauty is beyond educational merits.
Highly versatile Gepte hand-carves outstanding variety of characters and they take hundreds of hours to complete. The artist uses hand tools that have been almost completely eliminated by modern machines, creating a link between past and present.
Gepte approaches the figure as a vehicle to create the misapprehension of reality by striving for technical mastery of the human figure. He continues to study the human body in order to present a marriage of the face and body in an attempt to communicate mood and emotional expression. Gepte’s works are in classical realist style with contemporary inspiration.
In crafting his sculptures, Gepte’s hands take on a life of its own, the body in motion; the exquisite balance between the expression of the face and the expression of the hands and, are of great personal significance to create a great masterpiece. He molds and kneads the clay to form delicate pieces that never fails to capture the striking fragility to tell a story of the human condition in all its grandeur.
***Watch Gepte in Action***
***A Selection of Gepte’s Art Masterpieces***
(Click the thumbnails below to enlarge the artwork, and then swipe or use the arrows to scroll)
Images supplied by the artist.
Article Source: Manila Bulletin