The Most Un-Baldemor of Them All

October 1, 2018

Description of the painting as written on the tags used

I am familiar with Manuel Baldemor’s style and color preferences having been exposed to his works, being one of the most prolific and popular visual artists in the Philippines. He hails from Paete, Laguna. Well-traveled, he had documented and interpreted in visual form the places he had visited. He just had an exhibit of his paintings focused on Berne, Switzerland initiated by Art Circle Gallery in Shang-rila Hotel. That was where I first met him.

My connection with one of his paintings started a couple of months back when I got hooked on — for me — the most un-Baldemor painting of them all. Well, at least from all his works that I had seen before, his painting “Hungarian Democratic Symbol — The Parliament” looked quite different. It is most simple but contemplative. The colors are more of pastel shades, and the negative spaces he used are comparatively larger than his usual and more known compositions. I didn’t recognize his style. The canvas was also textured with defined and playful lines instead of just being plain. I just loved the simplicity of his composition and the play and overlapping of colors.


“Details of Manuel Baldemor’s “Hungarian Democratic Symbol — The Parliament”


With Manuel Baldemor’s “Hungarian Democratic Symbol – The Parliament” dated 2001


Details of the painting

The mood was quite evocative of the time I set foot in Sacre Coeur Church in Paris, France where I stood nearly eye level to the clouds or mists at the time. With the solemn Gregorian chant being played right then, I felt so spiritually up; it was as if I were with angels and walking on the clouds in a manner so similar to what I read about from children’s story books; the same feeling that I had when I first went to Sagada when the place was still pristine, and not yet popular to tourists. I do not remember seeing any foreign tourist for one. There must have been less than 10 of us at the time when our group [consisting of four staff] from the UP Film Center went there to take photographs. We held an exhibit at the UP Palma Hall or A.S. Building after the trip.


Manuel Baldemor’s signature includes the painting’s title

Funnily, the twist was when Mr. Baldemor told us that what I thought to be clouds were  actually waters of the Danube River – a body of water that passes to nine other countries other than Hungary: Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine. The muted colored elements perceptively of buildings were divided — taken from the high perspective viewpoint of Baldemor’s eyemind.

I found it awesome that in cropping parts of the whole painting to show details, it yielded several that could stand on their own as separate paintings. I recently saw a small painting he did in Malaysia dated 2017; surprisingly, done 16 years apart, the style is reminiscent of portions of this painting.


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