Earth Keeper | Melissa Villaseñor
Lisa Villaseñor's Earth Keeper at Renaissance
by Cid Reyes
“Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite
beauty. Thus wrote the English critic John Ruskin.
Lisa Villaseñor, in her first solo exhibition titled “Earth Keeper” at
the Renaissance Gallery, captures in her works the infinite beauty of
her experiences both as an artist and a plantita.
Unlike most ecological paintings which depict the bleak,
distressful and alarming consequences of environmental abuse and
neglect, Villaseñor opts to portray the earth in its primal splendor and
freshness, emphasizing the lush and verdant richness of a land covered
with green grass, trees and plants flourishing under sun and rain.
Compositionally, Villaseñor’s paintings can send a botanist into
paroxysms of delight as she assembles in one harmonious symphony
such curiously named plants as: Maiden’s Hair, Torch Ginger, Mayana,
Bromeliad, Forever Rich, Calathea, Elephant’s Ear, and Philodendron’s
Majesty. Like the 17th century Dutch and Flemish painters who
gathered flowers of different seasons in one plump bowl, Villaseñor
amasses these plants with an equal balance of planning and instinct as
though the vegetation had naturally emerged from the earth.
As a floral painter, Villaseñor is identified with the bougainvillea,
which she has painted in numerous canvases, celebrating its multihued
variety of purple, red, orange, white, magenta and yellow bracts, the
paper-thin leaves that surround the tiny true flower. A sun-lover which
thrives in a hot tropical environmental, the bougainvillea exudes a
joyful and happy energy, signaling a warm welcome to visitors.
A word on the titles of Villaseñor’s paintings: they are all
christened with passages from the Book of Psalms. No doubt they
heighten and intensify the artist’s relationship with her works as
reflection of God’s creations and also as a manifestation of the Divine in
nature. The spirit exults at a title that reads “God is our refuge and our
strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Her titles affect our view of
her handiwork even as the artist leads us to a mysterious region that
goes beyond the charm and delight of a landscape or a still life.
As an “earth keeper” herself, Villaseñor maintains a constant
dialogue and intimacy with nature, from which the artist summons the
most intense color and light, relishing and reveling in its atmosphere.
Melissa Villaseñor obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts,
majoring in Interior Design, from the University of Santo Tomas in 1994.
She has been a member of Art Wednesday since 2007 and was its
president in 2012 until 2017. Re-elected in 2019, she continues to head
Art Wednesday. Villaseñor is also a founding member of Floral Artists
Manila, established in 2017.
“Earth Keeper” is curated by Noli Romero.
Renaissance Gallery is at the 4/F., The Artwalk, Bldg. A, SM
Megamall, EDSA cor. Julia Vargas Ave., Mandaluyong City. For inquiries,