|THE HANDMADE MONASTIC-INSPIRED ART OF CHRISTIAN LACAP|
When monasteries became centers for learning and religious training, there rose a need for houses of worship, books and devotional objects for the daily life of the community.
|SAMPLES OF OLD MONASTIC ART|
|AN ART CLASS UNDER A NUN, 1933|
|STUDENTS IN ART CLASSES, 1930s|
When religious orders began putting up schools in the Philippines, art education became part of their curriculum. Most of the teachers were nuns themselves, and so they introduced many forms of devotional art to their students that require embroidery, painting, decorative paper tooling such as tole and quilling, and assemblages of sacred scenes in shadow boxes.
|SAN PEDRO, APO IRO OF APALIT|
|VIRGEN OF ANTIPOLO|
Many of these artistic outputs from the 1920s thru 1950s were used to decorate home altars and rooms, showcases of skilled hands and religious fervor. In antique shops, elaborate pieces command quite a tidy sum—like those that feature exquisite wired mother-of-pearl floral arrangements that must have required long hours of deft work.
|STA. ANA, FATIMA, LOURDES|
The creation of such art have ceased to be with the advent of modern education, but a few artists are quietly reviving the tradition. Christian Lacap of Mabalacat is one such self-taught artist who is slowly building a portfolio of contemporized monastic art that is gaining notice among a small circle of collectors.
|VIRGEN DE PORTA VAGA|
His decorated shadow box art, 2-dimensional representations of dressed santos and biblical characters, old estampitas bordered with quilled paper, among others—are truly inspired creations, cleanly executed, neatly-laid out and beautifully composed.
|VIRGEN DE LOS REMEDIOS|
|SAN JUDAS TADEO / SAN MARTIN DE PORRES|
|VIRGEN DEL CARMEN / SAN VICENTE FERRER|
|SAN ANTONIO DE PADUA|
His creative flair began years ago as a teenager in Mabalacat when he was asked to help decorate the Divine Grace Parish Church during the annual fiesta, Holy Week and Christmas celebrations. Soon, he was also assisting in the dressing up of santos and floral decorations of carrozas.
|STO. NINO DE MALOLOS|
|SAN LUIS GONZAGA|
At age 22, he landed a job in the Middle East, working at the King Salman Bin Abdulazizal Saud Palace in Jeddah for the royal household from 2009-2011. As part of the housekeeping staff, Lacap was tasked with the floral arrangements at the social events of the princess.
|LA PURISIMA / VIRGEN MILAGROSA DE BADOC|
|LA DIVINA PASTORA / STA. CATALINA DE SIENA|
After the contract ended, he stayed for 5 more years, finding employment in a flower shop in Riyadh, before working as cashier/waiter in a Filipino restaurant in Jeddah. He returned to the Philippines in 2018, and was hired to work under the City Tourism office in 2019.
Lacap’s visit to the Archdiocesan Museum of San Fernando which has quite a big collection of Shadow Box Art, introduced him to an old art form which became his fascination. He studied how to dress up flat pictures using real fabric, folded to simulate real drapes. He also observed the kinds of decorations used, which consisted mostly of paper flowers. These, he learned to make from scratch.
|QUILLED ANTIQUE SCAPULAR|
|1ST WORK: QUILLED ESTAMPITA|
It was at this point too that an acquaintance introduced him to the old art of paper quilling. By looking at examples online, Lacap copied and perfected the technique of rolling paper strips, crimping them to form shapes, and then assembling these using glue. His first two attempts of framed quilled art were sold immediately. In time, he was also asked to show his works in religious exhibits.
Through referrals and word of mouth, Lacap managed to get commissions from customers, mostly sacred art collectors. He did a lot of experimentation in the absence of materials. For example, he simulated “lagang” flowers (mother-of-pearl) using ordinary masking tape. He has also looked into the use of feathers, flowers made of strung beads, and found objects such as twigs, embroidery scraps, old metal halos, and even human hair!
|RETOOLED LEAVES & PAPER FLOWERS|
|MASKING TAPE FLOWERS|
By mixing and combining quilling, fabric manipulation, appliquing and unique floral decorating, he could transform a flat base paper figure in one or two weeks, into a treasured work of art, worthy to be a museum piece. In the absence of old holy pictures to frame, he uses pictures and prints from old religious programs, calendars, and similar sources. The antique frames are mostly provided by his patrons. His basic tools are the usual glue gun, paper, floral tape, fabrics, trimmings--and lots of patience.
|STO, NINO DE MALOLOS|
|VIRGEN DE CANDELARIA|
Recently resigned from his government job, Lacap has decided to pursue his creative passion full-time. At the moment, he is still finishing some commissioned works, and he hopes to open his on-line FB-based small sacred art business soon, under the name “ARTE SAGRADA”.
|MINIATURE STO. NINO|
|SAN PEDRO / STO. NINO|
On this spread are some of the works completed by Christian Lacap, who, in his own special way, without formal training and background in fine arts, is reviving the vanishing tradition of monasteries from centuries past.
CREDITS: ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF CHRISTIAN LACAP
For inquiries, contact: https://www.facebook.com/xtian.lacap.5