Soon after obtaining her BS Fine Arts degree from the University of Santo Tomas, Anita del Rosario joined Liwayway Magazine as illustrator. She mastered the craft of interpreting human figures through paper and ink, giving life to romantic novels.
Anita del Rosario at her atelier in San Juan City CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS/RENJIE TOLENTINO
Her artistry expanded to the canvas where her inspirations mostly centered on maternal love, sacrifice, passion and other human emotions and representations of the divine through abstract expressionism in oil or watercolor.
She told The Sunday Times Magazine in an exclusive interview at her atelier in San Juan that she got her artistic inclination from her father, who was an architect.
An avante garde rendition of the crucifix using the simple materials of wood and metal in a complex construction.
In the early 1970s, del Rosario found an avenue to channel her innermost artistic juices in jewelry designing.
“I knew it was difficult but I pursued, as I considered it a natural course of my evolution as an artist. Because from creating two-dimensional works of art I would now create three-dimensional pieces, using my imagination more with different materials like metals and precious stones, which required precision and steady pair of hands,” she shared, adding that learning the personality of metals and the characteristics of stones and minerals got her more excited in the craft.
Her designs were one-of-a-kind as she refused to go along with trends and whims of stakeholders in the fashion industry. Observing the direction where global fashion was heading to instead, her creative core went deeper, finding inspiration in modern art, nature and faith in God.
The cross as subject cemented her uniqueness in the jewelry business — each piece painstakingly done by hand, exuding sophistication and timelessness.
She related it was a dream or a vision of a bright light that formed the crucifix which made her decide to work around the figure. Two succeeding encounters with the “divine message” made her resolve to concentrate on the theme.
Her creations made quite a stir among meticulous jewely aficionados — like the spiral gold necklace-and-ring set that are sculptural abstractions, the mother-of-pearls pendant in the form of a stylized crucifix with swirls of gold wire representing the body on the cross and a diamond stud as the head of Jesus Christ.
“My crucifixes are happy representations of the sacrifice of our Lord. That’s what I gleaned from my [three] visions of a bright light in the form of a cross,” she related.
Another awe-inspiring creation is an amber pendant with a horizontal bar of black-plated gold to create a cross — with the burst of diamonds signifying the glory of Christ and the sunrise. There is also the mother-of-pearl pendant representing a mother lovingly holding her child, enhanced by gold wires and diamond flowerets.
Using no molds and following no formula, each done by hand as she twists the wires, bends and pulls the metals and assembles each precious stone herself heeding only her imagination, she said that it is difficult to recreate one that she has already done.
“I create from the heart and mind, and not from any pre-conceived notion or a contrived design. These pieces are expressions of what inspires or moves me at a particular moment in time. So each of the pieces is a lasting work of art that can be worn with pride and handed down to the next generation,” she asserted.
Sculpture as new mastery
On the way to her 50 years in jewelry design, del Rosario found sculpture as an avenue to express her craft in a bigger medium for wider audience.
An otherwise simple heartshaped sculpture turns into an interesting work of art with wires bent and metal pieces resembling two faces kissing.
“Sculpture is more daunting. Since dimensions are bigger, greater force as well as more patience is needed to create one work of art, although the creative process is similar to creating jewelry,” she said.
She also revealed that the subjects of her sculpture are created from what inspired her at a particular time.
“I may be moved by another artist’s work, a fleeting moment in nature or a particular emotion. But interpreting an idea into a three-dimensional form is most challenging. It requires mastery of the medium, the physical power to transform the medium, and a lot of tolerance because I have to work with other craftsmen,” the artist told The Sunday Times Magazine.
The artist’s representation of a woman in wood and metal.
On a shelf at her atelier is a striking sculpture piece — an old driftwood seasoned by the elements and bisected by a panel of woven copper wires, swirls of wire representing Jesus hanging on the cross. Combining the two organic elements of wood and metal, the piece is sleek, modern and evocative — arresting for the simplicity of its design and the complexity of its construction.
The artist declared the piece on display is not for sale.
“I am still thinking of ways to enhance it because I want to make a collection for an exhibit [either in June or the 2020 ManilArt in September]. Art takes time, you just can’t hurry the creative process because the inspiration to create beauty comes from a higher course, so it is expedient to have patience,” she said.
In 2005, del Rosario was included in the exhibit “100 Women Artists: The Centennial of the Feminist Movement in the Philippines,” an honor given by the Cultural Center of the Philippines along with such names as Julie Dalena, Araceli Dans, Tita Lacambra-Ayala, Imelda Cajipe-Endaya and Ivi Cosio.
She also showcased her works at the exhibit titled “Two Of A Kind” along with the glass-and-mirror installations of Pinggoy Generoso at the Fortune Hill Showroom in San Juan City in 2015.
She celebrated her 50 years as artist in the “Cinco” [Five Decades] exhibit in 2018 at ArtistSpace Ayala.