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Lilianna Manahan's Work Is A Testament To Artists Transcending Today's Physical And Creative Limitations

She worked with metal leaf, gouache, canvas, and paper to prove the point

In a time when many things were, and still are, being destroyed—like old habits, daily routines, conceptions about the world and people—Lilianna Manahan was creating.

It's part of her job description as an artist; when unexpected limits are imposed, artists like her don't see dead ends, but chances to do what they do best—become limitless.

For Lilianna, a painter and a designer by trade, she began pushing back against the dullness of quarantine life  with a drawing a day. When many other creatives like herself feared that the sheer monotony of living indoors would have adverse effects on their capacity to imagine and manifest, there she was, wielding her weapons of choice and waging a silent war against this threat to creativity on canvas and paper. 

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"During lockdown I didn't have much to work with since I work with craftsmen and suppliers to fabricate my products. I was left with my art stash at home which consisted of sketchbooks, some paint and metal leaf," she begins.

"There were a few bouts of discouragement where I felt maybe I should be making other things for this time, but I was reminded that even at this time, artists still create, and that limitations actually push you to be more creative. It just so happened that I had been wanting to go back to drawing more, and the pandemic forced me back to the basics of just a drawing tool and paper," Liliann continues. 

Though she admits to being inconsistent in her efforts to create, the days when she did manage to make beautiful things proved to be incredibly rewarding. 

Her inspiration during her bursts of productivity were varied; first she found herself returning to drawing  what she used to as a teenager, and then her hands echoed her works from a couple of years back, and finally, she realized that she was still ultimately being guided by her artistic heart's deepest interest: Creation. 

"Creation and sort of suspending moments of Creation in time," Lilianna explains.

"Similar motifs are seen in my glass collaboration, ouga bouga vases and 'befores' series. I also was interested in playing with textures and metal leaf on different materials like paper and canvas, and how they would play out with colors," she says. 

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And so, she did just that—play around, mix and match, bend and break, experiment.

If there was any time she could spend strengthening her creative muscle, it was now.

In the past, Lilianna's efforts to do something different led simply to ideas of what she could do. This time, she just did. 

She concentrated on using her drawings, her most basic expression of her art, as the backbone of her new art and generously incorporating gold elements. Gold to Lilianna is the most precious of all, so you'll see it a lot in many of her artworks and designs. 

"ECQ gave me this time to execute and think," she tells us.

Last year, Lilianna explored painting as her medium of expression, embarking on a sold out art fundraiser for the students of the UP College of Arts:

And the perfect storm of time, thinking, and execution turned out to be what Lilianna needed to do what many artists this time can only hope to be able to do: launch a physical exhibit and not be bound to stagnation by the pandemic. 

Her works are now part of the exhibit titled Unlimited and on display at Modeka Art in Makati. 

It's a feat for the books for Lilianna, that's for sure, but her gold standard for herself remains to be a custom-order piece she created with some of the finest Italian marble not so long ago. 

"I wanted to showcase the material, the technology and craftsmanship behind it. The second reason I find this project beautiful is because the time and trials it took to get this piece here! It had gone through so many things for it to be finished and to get to Manila, that the story behind it makes the piece richer," she recalls.

It will take some time before Lilianna can do anything similar, what with her needing to physically meet with suppliers and craftsmen, but who knows? She's also proven her talent to be limitless with this exhibit, and more could spring forth from her well of creativity sooner than later. 

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"I'd love to continue exploring and exhausting this train of thought and hopefully try and apply it to other mediums," Lilianna says of her current direction with her art. 

"One thing ECQ brought out was the habit of just making and creating something, and trust that it will have its time," she ends. 

For those interested in seeing Lilianna's work, you can schedule a private viewing at Modeka Art at or on Instagram

Art images courtesy of Lilianna Manahan / Artist photo from