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Posted by Dexter Matilla - - 0 comments

By Dexter R. Matilla
Philippine Daily Inquirer
DateFirst Posted 01:00:00 11/09/2009

JOEY VELASCO SHOULD NOT BE painting. He should not have written a book, sculpted a seven-foot-tall bronze sculpture of Fr. Patrick Peyton, and given inspirational talks to just about anybody willing to listen.

But he has continued to do so despite his medical condition. He is able to do these things and so much more—such as enjoy the love and fellowship of family and friends—because he has not given up.

Velasco was fighting a large mass in his kidney when he prayed and asked God that he be thrown a rope, even if it was laced with broken glasses. He was extended a paintbrush and, pulling himself up, Velasco was able to overcome the physical pain and emerge truly a new man, an artist with purpose.

“Remembering that death can come at any moment is the most important realization I’ve ever had to help trigger God’s gifts,” Velasco says. “Because all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—all these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. There is no reason anymore not to follow your heart.”

Velasco continues to listen to that inner voice that guides him along the path of inspiration, and it could not be more evident in his new exhibit, “Chiaroscuro,” ongoing at the lower level of Glorietta 3 in Makati. (Contact Versensens, Inc., tel. 9366120, 9366123.)

Twelve new collections reflect the artist’s perception on life and death. As with his previous works, Velasco continues to defy the conventional views of Jesus Christ.

“Bravehearts” is about cancer-stricken kids Velasco describes as “brave but cannot play under the rain like other children do . . . A single IV tube could wrack their frail bodies with unimaginable pain. But when someone journeys with them, they shed that lambent glow.”

Sharing their pain is a bald Christ who has undergone chemotherapy as the children have, a reassuring presence.

Fully lived

“Alay kay Berns (A Tribute)” is about a man Velasco met in 1979. Six years his senior, the man had so much life in him until he was paralyzed from the waist down. Being bound to his wheelchair, Berns was initially resentful but he chose to live, just as Velasco did, and even proved the doctors wrong who had said that he would not last long.

But of course, the subject of death would not have a profound meaning without showing the value of a fully lived life.

Velasco is blessed with a supportive wife in Queenie and his four children Marco, Chiara, Clarisse, and Marti, the youngest, who is the subject of “My Heart Beats for You.”

“My bunso is a quiet but intuitive boy,” Velasco says. “At times, I catch him observing me. Even when he is busy tinkering with his toys, his ears listen attentively. Among all my children, he was the one who least experienced infant-fathering from me because he was barely a year old when I experienced my lowest moment. So I always make sure that he captures the correct signal—that I love him.

“From birth until the ninth month of a baby, the most familiar sound he can hear is the heartbeat. It is a source of his security. God talks to us amidst the cacophony of events. He speaks to us in small things as faint as the heartbeat.”

“Be the Voice” shows Christ playing the guitar with two girls singing along, and stage curtains as their background. Velasco explains that music and painting are allied arts in that as colors are mixed on a palette, notes and melodies likewise blend in harmony. If ever this truth requires proof, one could always reference Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” which was the inspiration for the Don McLean song “Vincent.”

Own story

“The best paintings I made were done while listening to music,” the artist says. “It leads me to the flow; somehow it puts me in the zone. But more than all these, music challenges me to put a voice to my painting.

“Aware that Jesus accompanies me, the voice has to be bold and fully resounding so that when the artwork is hung it can give voice to the soft-spoken and the voiceless of our society. It cannot be muted or suppressed. When a viewer carefully listens, he will hear the song of his own story from the visual scene on a flat surface.”

Velasco’s works may have different meanings to different people or it may be as similar from one pair of eyes to the next. What cannot be denied, however, is that the paintings have the power to give hope—that the promise of a purposeful and passionate life can be experienced by everyone.

“Life is short,” Velasco says. “Live with passion. Live a purposeful life. Leave a legacy. Unless one accepts this truth, one can never really truly live because one will have the tendency to take time for granted as if one’s days are without limit.

“Time is a slippery thing and a lot of people go through life half-awake. So don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice and have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”


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