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Posted by Dexter Matilla - - 0 comments

By Dexter R. Matilla
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:53:00 06/21/2009

Filed Under: Painting, Arts and Culture and Entertainment, People, Family

MANILA, Philippines – Award-winning, United States-based Filipino stage actress Ching Valdes has played various roles throughout her career. The stage, as theater adages go, is her world.

Even during a casual chat, the Obie (Off-Broadway)-winning Valdes exudes intensity, albeit subdued. She’s quick to point out, however, that the proper term is passionate.

“If [you mean] being in the moment and to feel deeply and live life fully, then I guess I am intense,” Valdes says. “I would also call it a lust for life.”

Valdes is obviously a child of the arts, and if her impressive theater credentials don’t give credence to that, then perhaps her over 100 paintings would, some of which are exhibited in Sining Kamalig at the Gateway Mall in Cubao.

The exhibit, “Memories ... Reflections... Dreams (for Leticia),” is a tribute to her mother, Leticia Madamba Valdes, the woman who inspired her to see and listen only with her heart.

First solo show

It is Valdes’ first solo after having been part of group exhibits at the Hartley House and the La Mama Galleria in New York City. Sining Kamalig is exhibiting a few of her works as a prelude to a month-long solo exhibit in New York City at Druids this July and at La Mama Galleria in the Spring of 2010.

Solitary Place

Having experimented with different mediums for the past 10 years, Valdes— who finds oil painting more to her liking— admits that none of her relatives or friends knew that she is as passionate with painting as she is with theater.

“They thought I was just painting,” she says. “But as a painter, when the muse comes, that’s what I follow. Sometimes I stare at the canvas for a long time before the first brush stroke, and sometimes I just furiously start. When I paint, I lose all sense of time and sometimes I forget to eat. Sometimes, I can’t wait for the next morning to come so that I can work on a piece especially when using oil paint. You have to wait for it to dry before you can do another layer. It is a very solitary place, I suppose like a writer.”

Among the artists she looks up to, the Impressionists are on top of her list. Filipino artists, however, whom she knows and whose works she loves are Dalena, Santi Bose, BenCab, Julie Lluch, Manuel Rodriguez Sr., Sanso and HR Ocampo.


“Painting has been my secret passion,” Valdes says. “I have discovered that the mere act of painting takes me into a private world no other can penetrate. Every stroke is like saying a prayer, like being in a state of meditation, an offering as if in a place of worship.”

Balancing time

For her, an artist is an artist whether in the performing arts or the visual arts. The difference, she continues, is in the discipline. And while her rituals when it comes to painting differ every now and then, when it comes to acting—in between putting on her makeup and doing relaxation, vocal and breathing exercises—it takes her an hour or so before she gets into her character.

“Putting on my makeup is the start of slowly getting into it,” Valdes says. “I do get very quiet and go into my space.”

When she returns to New York, Valdes says that what would be ideal for her is if she finds a way to balance her time between performing and painting.

It was in 1997 when Valdes won an Obie, New York’s most prestigious award for Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater productions, for her role as Aying in May-Yi Theater’s production of “Flipzoids.”

She is also an award-winning director and has worked extensively in theater, film and television in Europe and the United States. Her most recent films include Julie Taymor’s “Lion King”, “Across the Universe” with Bono, and “Sex in the City” with Sarah Jessica Parker.

Leading roles in theater include Medea, Empress of China, Bernarda Alba, Clytemnestra, Lady Macbeth, Jocasta.

Valdes is a Fox fellow, MAP Rockefeller grantee, Asian Cultural Council fellow, and a recipient of Ma-Yi Achievement Award for Excellence in Theater.

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