Life, as you see it

It’s a pretty good crowd for a Saturday
And the manager gives me a smile
‘Cause he knows that it’s me they’ve been coming to see
To forget about life for a while
—Billy Joel, “Piano Man”

It’s funny how we sometimes equate life with worldliness. Indeed, life is that, and then some, yet in our harried and routine existence we tend to grovel over the nitty-gritty—that which we call Life—while our respective life-experiences unfold. It’s inconvenient for many of us. For artists, it can be unnerving.

The late great Alfrredo Navarro Salanga was said to have quietly fretted about the many things he had to personally attend to to make ends meet, while writing—the type that came from the heart—necessarily had to take a backseat. In the end, Freddie came to be known as one of his generation’s most gifted and prolific writers. But he had his moments.

This came up in the long conversation I had with Vic Secuya when I had coffee with him in his home. We talked about art and writing workshops, the impetus of his current works, the compilation of new articles he’s written (yes, he also writes), and yes, the period one invests in to ensure some stability.

Which isn’t bad in itself, that last one, a sentiment that somewhat puts him in the same boat, not only with Freddie but with the likes of 16th Century Raphael, who chose to earn a little bit more money, on top of his numerous papal commissions, as the Pope’s valet de chambre.

All that is par for the course.

But at the end of the day, the creative spirit aches to be free. And the artist must relent.

Music Festival Series — among the paintings featured in Vic Secuya’s exhibit on March 11 -12 at SM Lanang. Photo by Nikki Gomez

In a way, this exhibit, Vic’s 24th, forms part of his second wind. Throughout the long years, not only has he wowed patrons with his award-winning works; he has also plodded through much of the day-to-day exigencies of keeping it all together: Paying the bills, bringing the child to school, having the car fixed.

Perhaps it isn’t really about exchanging one “life” for another. But my sense is that the artist in him, or however one calls that persistent tug in the creative heart, was back from the dead and beginning to nag. And Vic wasn’t about to walk away.

One can feel that comeback spirit in this “Music Festival Series.”  Unlike his previous subdued paintings, these ones are more vibrant, not unlike an array of Muslim banners along a village road. Musical instruments and female forms animate the abstracts. And somewhere between the strokes are an unmistakable girth, a resurgence of excitement, if you will, over the future of art.

That word, future, also leaps into mind, albeit inversely, when one appreciates his “In the Beginning Series.” As a non-artist, I am, paradoxically, unable to see the conventional logic of his colorful renditions, yet able to discern a connection between sunrise and sunset, beginning and end, life and death.

Maybe Vic wants to tell us something about life and its cycles. After all, he’s one man who seems—mundanities, accolades, and all—to be coming full circle.