Saturday, June 13, 2015
224. CLAUDE TAYAG SANTO COLLECTION
Artist, painter, culinary chef, restaurateur, watercolorist, furniture designer, food and travel columnist, award-winning author, furniture designer, antique collector--there are so many hats that Claude Moises Tayag (born 1956, Angeles City, Philippines) wear, and the great thing about him is, he wears them so well--making him a master of everything that he chooses to venture in.
But this Kapampangan "Renaissance Man" describes himself as a self-taught artist, a passion he indulged in as an architecture and economics student at the University of the Philippines. Mentored by another great Kapampangan artist and literary giant, Emilio "Abe" Aguilar Cruz, Claude (pronounced as "Cloud") acquired a taste for all aspects of the creative arts, spurred by his collecting interest--Philippine colonial santos.
Claude started collecting antique miniature santos; he put a ceiling to the height of santos he would buy--no more than 8 inches tall. He would sadly walk away if a santo that initially caught his fancy measured more than 8 inches, and he stuck to this collecting discipline, amassing these Lilliputian santos slowly, but surely.
In fact, they were his inspirations in 1978, when he first barged into the Manila art circuit. Claude exhibited his vivid watercolor santo paintings, collated in a folio of plates, now just as collectible as his artworks.
His art grew to include paintings of Philippine festivals, the landscapes of the northern highlands--all vibrantly painted with characteristic spontaneity and vigor. But though he put on hold his santo collecting, his love for these folk images--he was partial also to primitive carvings--never waned.
In his spacious "Bale Dutung" (House of Wood) in an Angeles subdivision, Claude keeps his collection on a large antique table. The centerpiece urna is flanked by santos--mostly of heavy wood-- of all titles and patronages--but all under 8 inches.
There are Ninos and Virgins, heads of saints and tableaus, mostly with Bohol provenance (santos from this province are typically small, painted with folksy colors and carved from heavy wood.
It is interesting to note that in 2015, Claude returned to his first love--watercolor painting. When he took up his brush again, it came as no surprised that he chose for his subjects once more--colonial folk santos, no less!
On this spread are some santos from his fabulous, but well-selected collection. I had the privilege to personally view them some years ago, when he and lovely wife, Mary Ann, hosted a small dinner for his high school batchmates--which included me! Proud Class of 1973 of Sacred Heart Seminary (now Chevalier School) in Angeles City.
Here we are at the Golden Anniversary of our high school, where we were both named outstanding alumni of Sacred Heart. Beyond collecting santos...we also collect memories!