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Spaces And Domestic Scenes Are Portrayed In Phyllis Zaballero’s “Conversations With My Masters”

The old and the new are fused in these works that depict local color amidst French-inspired interiors, clothing and open air views

Having spent months in some level of lockdown, we can all agree that many have sought to prettify their spaces, curating each corner into more efficient and meaningful ones.  During no other time have we noticed all the small details that make up our homes.  In Phyllis Zaballero's recently-concluded show at the Galeria Duemila, Conversations With My Masters, the domestic life is celebrated, but not merely as a documentation of the recent bouts with isolation at home during these pandemic times.  Instead, the artist meant for her works to be riffs, if you will, with masters of art, where she responded and reacted to works by Degas, Bonnard and Matisse.  These deeply reflective works present the artist's analytical point of view in relation with these artists' works.

"To express my admiration of their geniuses I employ an ever evolving technique which painstakingly marries emulsion transfers of photographed portions of their works with my modern acrylic paint and materials. The canvas is then embellished by my personal fancies and gestural flourishes of related archival notations and drawings but always respecting the artists’ special language of colors and forms," Zaballero explains in her artist statement.

"These sixteen interactive paintings render tribute and express gratitude to these three French immortals whose museum masterworks suffused my impressionable youth with their light, line and color. Today, in the twilight of my years, when I converse and paint “with” them, the excitement of my first seeing their paintings so long ago is as fresh as ever," she continues.  

Because Zaballero spent a part of her youth in the US where she lived near the Museum of Fine Arts Boston,  the cultural institution became her early childhood invitation to art appreciation in the 1950's.  Later, her teenage years spent in Switzerland, France and Spain allowed her the privilege of visiting more museums where she reveled in art.  After a circuitous path to being an artist, Zaballero finally obtained her degree in painting from the University of the Philippines, completing with the status of magna cum laude in 1978.  

In Galleria Duemila's press release on the show, Angela Singian writes, "In her present-day studio, Phyllis’ dedication to the Post-Impressionists shows in a combination of alchemy and archiving. Tucked in an urban townhouse with the façade of an idyllic cottage, the upper rooms are bathed in a light her precedents would likely have approved of. Each of her sketch pads containing studies for every work is scrupulously documented, and cross-referenced with her photo, card and computer files. The pages are filled with identifying notes and corresponding color palettes for future archivists’ and restorers’ guidance. Between knick-knacks and private souvenirs, art materials are thoughtfully arranged in their set places," describing the artist's pursuit of her craft, as expressed in her personal space.

Her works transcend the space of their making in Conversations With My Masters, allowing the artist to cross through boundaries of time, languidly creating a dialogue with Degas, Bonnard and Matisse.  The viewer then enjoys a symphony of the old and the present day, as expressed by Zaballero through these works.

Explore the virtual exhibition here.  For inquiries, contact Galleria Duemila at Tel. No. +632 8831 9990; Telefax No. +632 8833 9815, email:, Twitter and Instagram: @galleriaduemila.

Images Courtesy of Galleria Duemila