UNYIELDING TO PRESSURES. ‘Bao: The Unbowed Carabao’, the masterpiece of mosaic artist Lisa de Leon-Zayco and sculptor Rafael ‘Paeng’ Paderna, is now displayed on the grounds of The Negros Museum in Bacolod City. The five-ton carabao sculpture, perched on a concrete platform, is made of concrete, brass, and tessera. (PNA/Photo by Nanette L. Guadalquiver)
BACOLOD CITY -- Two Negrense artists have collaborated to create a masterpiece that pays homage to the country’s beast of burden -- the carabao -- highlighting its significance to the sugar industry as an agricultural heritage of Negros.
On Sunday night, “Bao: The Unbowed Carabao” was unveiled on the grounds of The Negros Museum -- the culmination of the fused artistry of mosaic artist Lisa de Leon-Zayco and sculptor Rafael “Paeng” Paderna.
The five-ton carabao sculpture, perched on a concrete platform, is made of concrete, brass, and tessera.
New York resident Angelica Urra-Berrie, a Negrense herself, commissioned the creation of “Bao” to become an iconic art personality for The Negros Museum, and as a tribute to the spirit of Visayan artists.
She joined the two artists and Lyn Gamboa, president of Negros Cultural Foundation, during the press launch on Monday to talk about the artwork she describes as monumental.
“The carabao has some nobility -- the horns, the lines of the body, the massive scale. In fact, we exaggerated the scale to show how majestic a humble creature can be,” Urra-Berrie said.
“Bao” came to life in the garage of Paderna’s home in Bacolod City as he collaborated with his former student in a span of 14 months to create the unique masterpiece.
For Paderna, it is just fitting that the carabao is given such prominence in an artwork in Negros, given its contribution to the sugar industry.
“No other animal has helped the province like the carabao. Try to think, without the carabao, what will happen to the sugar industry in Negros Occidental. The sacadas (sugarcane workers) will then have to do the work of the carabao,” he said.
“This is the time to honor the animal that has helped us. The work the carabao has done has no comparison,” the distinguished sculptor added.
The delicate mosaic overlaid on the carabao sculpture depicts “the narrative of survival through economic, political, and social turmoil in the sugar industry as a tale of endurance and resilience”.
“I wanted to depict a story that’s happy. I didn’t want any political color in it. It’s purely sugar story, a sweet, sweet story of sugar,” De Leon-Zayco said.
On a closer look, one can see that the mosaics on the belly of the carabao are illustrated as sugarlands and the animal’s legs are shaped like sugarcane stalks.
“I pray that we can still see sugarlands. With these developments coming up, we don’t want to see anything too gray, we want a greenery,” she said.
The mosaic artist shared that working with her mentor to create “Bao” has been smooth sailing since they “respected each other’s space and respected each other’s knowledge”.
“It was a great collaboration,” she added.
More of De Leon-Zayco and Paderna’s works are showcased in a back-to-back exhibit at The Negros Museum and is dubbed “Coming Home”, which runs until May 31. (PNA)