CULTURAL POTPOURRI| Portraits by Krystle

THERE is this pretty artist who started with a small cubicle for an art studio (located within the Kim Leng Go Plaza Fotohauz fronting Jollibee) who had been attracting the attention of shoppers, mall rats and tambays at the Victoria Plaza for years. What got my attention in the now 25-year-old artist is the fact that she’s the first female commercial portrait artist I’ve encountered in Davao City. Another interesting note is that she makes these indelible imagery of Andy Warhol-type portraits pared down to a client’s essential identity. But I believe she’s a lot better with watercolor and pastel.

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PORTRAIT artist Krystle Ann Perion Golea

“I love Andy Warhol (1928-1987) as he was a leading figure in the visual art movement of Pop Art which I adore along with the art of Japanese anime (manga) and cartoons,” said Krystle Ann P. Golea. Krystle has now transferred to a unit at the third floor of the Abreeza Mall which she shares with her boyfriend, artist Macky Bongablong and her 18-year-old sister/apprentice, Keren Hannah P. Golea. “I am grateful to the Abreeza Mall for allowing me to use this bigger unit for our studio. It’s so much bigger compared to the stalls we used to rent,” said Krystle.

Krystle used to be a cartoonist cum illustrator of the University of Mindanao’s newsletter until she stopped her schooling for a degree in BS Education owing to financial difficulties. Her father, Albert Golea, is a construction laborer; while her mom Sophia Perion-Golea of Buhangin runs an eatery with her aunt for the much needed additional income to sustain her family. “My father and I were born in Manila. It’s my mother who is a Davaoena. I grew up and studied in Davao since I was very young so that qualifies me as a Davaoena myself,” she revealed with a smile.

   “I started drawing when I was about three-years-old. My grandfather, Felix Golea, was a licensed architect working in Muntinlupa City. He loved to draw and paint that the house where were we used to live with him was filled with his art. The house served as his office as well. Besides his beautiful architectural perspectives of structures, he was into oil painting which he would sell on the side. I still remember that he loved Vincent Van Gogh’s impressionistic style. It was my grandfather who instilled in me the love for the visual arts and, I guess, I got the talent for drawing from him as well,” narrated Krystle as she apologised, “Sir, I hope you don’t mind interviewing me while I work on this commissioned oil portrait of a client. It’s a surprise birthday gift from her politician son. I have a deadline to meet,” she said.

     I was just amazed that Krystle could focus on her work while being interviewed and at the same time, being watched and ogled by curious onlookers visiting her studio. There was even a lady who came in with her children who played with Krystle’s dog which made me feel uncomfortable while doing my interview with the young artist. Her sister, Keren Hannah, was also painting a handsome, furry cat commissioned by a certain client. There were prospective clients who would drop by to inquire about a portrait while asking for discounts on Krystle’s quoted price. She’s now more expensive than before as I also had my nephew Joseph’s portrait done by her.

     It was five years ago when Krystle encountered Macky Bongabong, a self-taught portrait artist, in a religious meeting at the CAP Auditorium. “It was Macky who introduced me to the art of portrait making. Macky, an orphan from Zamboanga, has had a hard life; and it is literally through portrait making which has helped him survive the realities of life he faces. Macky always has many things going on in his head,” Krystle revealed. Macky, himself, once operated the Fine Art Shop fronting the grocery of Robinson’s at the Abreeza Mall. It was while talking to Macky earlier that you learn the truth that making money is art; and that making art into a good business is art in itself. Krystle is no longer the emotional artist who was once happier when she would not have to think about the business aspect which she used to leave to Macky to deal with. Macky is her boyfriend besides being her art mentor and critic. It is Krystle who, in my opinion, is the more dedicated artist and it shows in the portraits she does with such careful detailing. “I’m presently concentratingon the difficult medium of watercolor. I practice daily to be good at it. I find watercolor more expressive,” she told me.

     “I got my first big break during an art exhibition at the Sanguniang Panlunsod. Our participation was sponsored by sir Melchor Quitain and his wife, ma’m Anita who are our patrons. There were a lot of people who got attracted to my Andy Warhol pop art portraits especially the one I did of Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte. I was just hoping during that month long exhibit that the Mayor would surprise us with his presence and have a look at the portrait I did of him. Unfortunately, he never came,” said Krystle.

     “The objective in my present line of artwork in portrait making is to capture the likeness of the person’s face. My clients demand realistic portraits or glamorized versions of their faces minus the wrinkles which, for me, gives character to their faces making the portrait more interesting. It’s the inner essence of the subject which, from the artist’s point of view, is more important.” Yes, I do understand Krystle for as Aristotle said, “The aim of Art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inner significance…”

     “But I have to deliver what my clients demand from me—photographic realism in depicting them,” she reasoned. Well, that’s the reality in this business of commercial art.

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