Ryan Cayabyab has 16 new pieces.
Hardly surprising is it? Except the 16 new pieces are not music sheets but paintings.
Paintings collected into an exhibit titled Tuloy ang Ligaya are currently on display at the Power Plant Mall until November 5, 2023 with a second show slated for November 10 to 26, 2023 at Estancia Mall, Pasig.
Even at age 69, National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab continues to astonish albeit in a different milieu.
The multi-awarded singer, composer, and conductor went back to an old love – painting – during the lockdown period of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“During the pandemic, I found out about acrylic paints. I got curious. Alam ko yung oil and watercolor pero hindi ko alam kung ano yung acrylic,” shared the national artist. “I bought a tube of acrylic paint and started painting. Then, my sister-in-law gave me her old acrylic paints and canvases. Sabi niya, ‘They’re all blanks you can have them; mag experiment ka.’ I painted on the canvases and I posted it on my FB. I was surprised when some of my friends offered to buy it.”
As a 14-year old boy, Cayabyab joined the YMCA National Art Competition in Manila not thinking of winning.
“Nakatanggap ako ng telegram kung saan nakasulat ‘Cipriano Cayabyab congratulations. You’ve won third price’. Nagulat ang daddy ko nung sinabi ko sa kanya ‘Dad, nanalo ako!'”
As a youngster, Ryan was influenced to take up art – painting, in particular two aunts.
“I had been drawing since I was a kid. However, it was very plain osmosis habang nakikita ko sila nagpipinta at nagdo-drawing.”
While Ryan’s career took the path toward music, his love and fascination for art were always within reach.
“There was a time – late 70s and early 80s – when I got curious about the various lead tips of pencils and enjoyed drawing peoples’ faces. I also tried watercolor and experimented with pen and ink.”
It was during a music camp in 2010 that he once more took pen or pencil to paper.
“During that music camp, heto ako, doodle ng doodle. Each time I’d finish something, lahat sila sinasabi, ‘akin na lang yan’ that’s why many of my doodles have found their way into some of my musician friends.”
While Maestro Ryan’s forays into art have been sporadic, the exhibit could be the start of something bigger.
“Originally, I painted only four but my daughter said ‘Why don’t you do 12?’ To represent each month – so I did 12. And then Raymond Lauchengco said: ‘Why don’t you paint 16?’. I have an album called “One” where I sang 16 voices. I’m so gullible, nabudol ako! I painted 16 ‘Eyefies’.
“A schoolmate from high school sent me a copy of my sketch of her which she had kept in her baul, which I signed ‘Cayabyab ’69,’ related the national artist. “She migrated to the US in the latter part of the 20th century and brought it with her. It surfaced when she saw my posts about my paintings. Her name is Lakshmi Gonzales and her father was NVM Gonzalez, National Artist for Literature.”
All the paintings have been titled “Eyefies” as they all show Cayabyab’s eye but in different situations. Of the 16, Cayabyab pointed to three that have special meaning.
Eyefie 1 – “There really was no clock in the original painting. It was when I saw the piano that I panicked. Mali yung orientation niya. I had to look at my piano before I remembered that I based the eyefie on an orientation that was in the reverse. Bago pa ako ma-criticize ng mga pianista, ni-remediyuhan ko na. Hence the clock.”
Eyefie 6 – “My UP High School grad pic eyefie in black and white. I used a grey wash to do the initial outline.”
Eyefie 12 – “A monochromatic painting using only a sepia acrylic tube of painting. This is probably one of my favorites because I think it looks like me. Hahahaha.”
Does the Tuloy ang Ligaya exhibit mean Maestro Ryan will concentrate on his rediscovered hobby?
“I wasn’t thinking of it as a commercial thing,” he answered. “I just wanted to try and was curious, until I got so hooked and finished a lot of paintings!
“I have a feeling I will be painting more after this exhibit. But the music industry beckons again so I might shelve the activity for some time. It might be another divine intervention, or hulog ng langit. It will definitely present itself when the time is ripe.”
Note: All pieces on exhibit are for sale. Inquiries regarding the art pieces may be directed to Ma. Dinah Remolacio (email@example.com, contact number: +639985561158).