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Dreaming of paradise

Visual artist Billy Bagtas paints a tribute to his mother with his latest exhibit ‘Kasal sa Diyos’

Where do we go when we die? That is one of the many questions humankind is trying to answer. Others believe in reincarnation, where one biological death is the beginning of a new life of a spirit only in another mortal form. Some think that the journey continues to the pearly gates of heaven where a spirit spends eternity in peace. The latter is what Billy Bagtas conveys in his latest exhibit, “Kasal sa Diyos,” showcasing the visual artist’s love and devotion to God and to his late mother.

Billy Bagtas 

“I am doing this for my mom. She passed away last September 2021, and that played a lot during my process of creating the pieces for this exhibit,” the artist says. “But I don’t want it to be just about death. I want the collection to be an inspiration for others to keep life going.”

Billy started his journey in the arts by joining various painting competitions. It was a pretty rough time for him and his family as they were financially challenged. While it is a good reason for him to put down the paintbrush, he still pursued his passion. After finishing his fine arts studies at Earist Manila in 2017, he met fellow artist Alfredo Esquillo who helped him with his career.

In the beginning, many of Billy’s works depict grim tales, which is due to his past experience of being ill. But now, he found the right balance of darkness and beauty, with masterpieces inspired by his family and God.

“Halik sa Langit,” “Bunga,” and “Balik Loob” 

Seeing “Kasal sa Diyos” is like going through a pilgrimage with familiar holy images tweaked to Billy’s aesthetic. In his works, the artist used botanical symbols in creating the images of God. The plant and other floral elements seen in the artworks are a way for him to represent the life of humans—full of wonder yet fleeting. “Bunga” is one of the special pieces in the exhibit as it presents his mother’s favorite, the sunflower. While the “Pagsamo sa Hangin, Bulong ng Panalangin,” the artist’s best-loved piece, illustrates his take on a family portrait, a hauntingly beautiful artwork that looks like a surreal take on the “Pietà.”

“When she passed, I asked myself if I still want to pursue art, and my answer is still yes,” Billy says. “I know that everything I do is for her. The people who loved and supported me know that. I know and believe that my mom is in Paradise now.”

“Alay at Gabay” and “Hinirang” 

Art, for Billy, is also a way of life. As he goes to fulfill his mission as an artist, he hopes to influence a new generation of artists who will use their craft in telling their truth and narrative.

“Art should be a true and honest work,” he says. “My goal is to inspire others, especially the young ones, to go and o art. I want to share with them what I learn. Also, it is a dream of mine to do an exhibit with the Cultural Center of the Philippines.”

“Pagsamo sa Hangin, Bulong ng Panalangin” 

“Kasal sa Diyos” runs until June 26 at Pinto Art Museum.

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Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph


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