Acclaimed visual artist Pancho Piano has put the Bicolano culture in the spotlight for 35 years through his distinctive paintings, impressive murals, and liturgical stained glass designs.
While most of his bodies of work are paintings, the artist has also crafted masterpieces of wood carvings and clay sculptures.
But regardless of the medium he chooses to express his creative side, the theme of his artwork gravitates toward Bicol’s many interesting myths, legends, culture, and traditions.
“I want my art to be a way to bring the beauty of the Bicolano culture, and the Filipino people in general, to the forefront. When people look at my work, I want them to think, reflect, and appreciate the beautiful culture that we have,” shared Piano.
With a penchant for realism and abstractionism, Piano’s paintings often portray the beauty of humanity, with a signature stroke where softness and loudness are both in harmony. His works have a “jolly” vibe to them, a reflection of Piano’s disposition in life.
Some of Piano’s favorite themes are indigenous deities such as Haliya, the moon goddess of abundance and fertility; Daragang Magayon in the folktale of ill-starred lovers; as well as myths surrounding the origin of Albay province. He also loves to incorporate in his work the region’s festivals especially that of the Our Lady of Peñafrancia water festival.
Born in a quaint town in Lagonoy, Camarines Sur, Piano discovered his love for the arts early in life.
“When I was in high school, the fishermen in our barrio would ask me to paint artworks in their fishing boats. In exchange, they would give me fish that they had caught,” recalled Piano.
He added, “Being an artist is kind of like being a fisherman—sometimes the catch is plentiful, sometimes there’s almost none.”
Piano is armed with an economics degree from the University of Nueva Caceres as well as a fine arts degree from the University of the Philippines Diliman as a Jose Joya scholar.
Aside from the various exhibits that he has committed himself to, he also spends his time mentoring younger artists in a group he organized—the Salingoy Art Group, an organization of Bicol-based artists; and Bicol Expression, a group of Manila-based artists whose roots originate from Bicol.
Piano recently displayed his latest artworks at two exhibits, dubbed “Hagod” at Okada Manila and “Merging of Colors” at SM Aura.
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