Thursday, June 4, 2009


        RAINBOW WATERFALLS (see more JOEL E. FERRARIS' sculptures here)

Sculptures are considered as 3-dimensional pieces of art. Having the opportunity to study architecture at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City allowed a door opened for me in the discipline of thinking concepts, designing, drawing plans hands-on, studies in mathematics and calculus plus engineering sciences. These experiences and lessons augmented my discipline as a studio painter and visual artist, a portrait artist, muralist, craftsman and struggling writer.

In my own point of view as an artist my dilemma in being a painter and a once-upon-a-time architecture student was given fruitful solution and outcome. Sculpture as a form of art lies between 2-dimensional art forms like painting and the 3-dimensional habitable structures that are products of architecture in the form of buildings.

Painting and all its forms and media used are mostly done by the artist without the aid of others for no one could mimic minute brush strokes exactly. In contrast, buildings as structures that fall under the category of architecture, are completed after undergoing a more intricate process with the aid of other experts in various disciplines from engineers, city officials, construction workers and other personnel. In short, there is an "army" of experts involved. Yet in the end the architect gains recognition because the original basic concept and design belongs to him/her. The same could be true in making films and in doing sculptures. The size, volume and time element involved requires a team of experts to make an idea drawn on paper "come to life."

Nowadays, with the introduction of the digital technology, some visual artists doing 2-dimensional forms of art require the use of other available means with the aid of other experts. Some examples are those who practice art using digital technology like professional photograpers.

I am happy that the designs and concepts I did for SM Sky Garden was made into a reality by a team of world class experts from Themebuilders Philippines Inc, a company responsible for various projects worldwide that includes Ocean Park in Hong Kong, The Dinosaur Project in the US  and the famous Corpus Experience Museum in the Netherlands to name a few. 

And you know what?! They are based in Pampanga, Philippines which is my country. It only shows how talented Filipinos are and because companies like Themebuilders Philippines Inc.  believe in the Filipino talent this mutual trust that allows jobs to be available to many must be maintained.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


By Joel E. Ferraris

After my successful solo art performance and exhibition titled TINY STUDIO at the Sara Sen Gallery in June 2008 which was featured in TimeOut Hong Kong (print and online) I once again found myself chasing, tracing and painting the shadows of people. 

It was a suspenseful short time before the event waiting for the guests to arrive. As I gazed at the blank canvases arranged on the wall I wondered what image would finally come out several hours later.

Unlike the previous project I had where the shadow of the entire human body was traced this time the focus was on people's hands as they tried to form animal-like shapes with the aid of a professional shadow artist who happens to be a Filipino-Chinese citizen of Hong Kong.

The one night event was so interesting as people took turns on standing in front of the spotlights to allow their hands to cast interesting shadows on the large modular canvas.

There were three of us in the team. I was assisted by my lovely wife Sally and beautiful young Karina Rivera-Curlewis. Young Karina also joined us in the Hong Kong Mural Society to paint the giant mural in Tsing Yi island in mid- 2000.


The mural is now in my studio as I continue to put some more elements to it. I plan to add some more exciting elements to surprise viewers later on.

On hindsight, as I recall how people, delegates from different countries, form shapes of animals out of their hands’ shadows during the events night, I reflect on the fact that and the irony of it all that it is mankind’s handiwork that contributed in the trend towards extinction of some species of living things.

Now the threat of global warming casts a dark and dangerous shadow in people’s lives.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


This exhibition presents the works of the five FERRARIS siblings, their spouses and their kids.

Interestingly, the labels of each art piece exhibited in the gallery now were written in the penmanship of their mother, Teresita Arroyo Epistola Ferraris. It is a timely tool presented in an age when the art of handwriting is gradually forgotten while the modern day hi-tech gadgets changed the art of writing.

Joel, Nelson, Jocelyn, Noel and Edgar are all self-taught artists from Iloilo City, Philippines. They started doing art since they were young kids by joining art competitions and art exhibitions starting from their province in Iloilo and eventually in Metro Manila and abroad. Although they have no formal training in fine arts because there was no fine arts school in their city at that time they were able to win significant and prestigious national and international arts competitions.

Coincidentally, they were married to equally talented ladies who are also artistically inclined but who worked in a much slower pace than they do.

Sally (Joel’s wife) is a graduate of BS Statistics and is the one close critic of Joel’s work. She started painting flowers in the 80s but recently shifted to a more abstract theme influenced by her job as a computer analyst.

Pamela (Nelson’s wife) took up BS Pharmacy. She became an artist inspired by her husband’s prolific attitude towards art making. Having had the first taste of acceptance in the art world when one of her art piece was auctioned in the early 90s, she became more determined to pursue her newfound profession.

These biological sisters who both studied at the University of the Philippines have a youngest sister Beth who also wanted to take Fine Arts but instead graduated as a Medical Technologist like Jocelyn.

Sukoi (Noel’s wife) is a graduate of BS in Mass Communications and is the niece of Norman Sustiguer, a very close friend of the Ferraris brothers, and who is a very talented artist and painter who once taught at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts. She painted a portrait of Noel in 1995.

The kids David, Daniel, Jemimah, Violet, Ronnie, Faith, Joseph, Kulay and Neo are all showing strong signs of inclination towards the arts. At their very young age they have very much interest in drawing the same way that their parents had in the past. And like their parents, these kids have no one to force them to pick-up pencils and papers to draw whatever ideas they have in mind.

The exhibition presents a spectrum determined by age and their works present a variety ranging from the carefree action of an innocent 10-month old baby to the more careful and calculated approach of adults approaching their golden age.

Violet (only 10 months old and the youngest of all) displayed the natural actions of babies her age to throw things. Her artwork was a result of paint splattered over a canvas when her father Nelson gave her cups of paint of different colors.

Jemimah (3 years and 8 months old) began to draw human-like forms in a more naïve way. These were all done in free-flowing strokes and drawings and she gave them names like her papa, mama and brothers. Unaided by her parents and brothers, she just silently draws in one corner of their flat whenever she feels doing it.

Joseph ( 4 years old), draws colored images showing the California forest fires as seen from a young child’s eyes. This is evidence that children are affected by what they see on TV especially the news. Done in bold strokes and strong colors on handmade paper, these small artworks send a strong signal from a very young boy his age..

Neo (4 years old) is more interested in cars and Tom and Jerry. His strong but playful strokes and colors are much bolder compared to that of his older sister Kulay.

Daniel (7 years old) has done drawings showing kids playing with their kites. His depiction of one kid looking upwards towards the sky is surprising. Another and recent artwork, his first watercolor painting, presents nature seen through the eyes of a child.

Faith (9 years old), who has traveled to Boracay Island in the Philippines several times with her family, draws coconut palms and flowers and shows her strong interest in nature.

Ronnie (10 ½ years old) did colorful artworks showing landscapes and a tree house. His love for golf and their family trips to Boracay Island with his sister Faith are good sources of inspiration.

David (10 years and 8 months old) presents drawings done in different periods that show the development on his skills. From images of toy robots and lego characters he has improved a lot even without the tutelage of his parents when he started doing still life drawings of the plants which he has incorporated in one single drawing depicting a farm.

Kulay is 11 years old and the oldest of the Ferraris kids. She displayed a more mature approach to drawing and painting. Her art pieces clearly show a more careful approach especially when she observes first hand how her meticulous father Noel work on background artworks for very popular animation films like Tarzan and Lilo & Stitch. At a very young age she was influenced by the Japanese Anime images but has tried to develop characters which are considered totally her own.

Judging from the above works of the children, it could probably be an interesting show to see if these art pieces done by kids in small scale be enlarged into large-scale artworks when they grow-up into adults in the future.

Now let’s focus on what their parents have done. In this particular exhibition, the five Ferraris siblings presented works old and new.

Joel, who has been showing his new works made in Hong Kong all these years, decided to include one very old work dated 1986 and done in a traditional style in oil on canvas. This is in stark contrast to his new style in mixed media on wood done in 2007. The reason is to present a lingering problem in the Philippines.

Nelson has three very visually strong art pieces with messages ranging from cyber piracy to global warming and pollution and the age-old theme about religion and violence. These are just a mere peek at what he has in his store room.

Jocelyn has one piece done in 1992 showing her meticulous technique of mixed media on handmade paper, a style which was part of a series that was included in a traveling exhibition dubbed “Visayan Islands Visual Arts On A National Circuit Tour” all over the Philippines in 1992. At present she joins group exhibitions in the US.

Noel, who has a very keen and strict eye for details, presents a mixed-media artwork. With the Filipino values as the theme, he uses the Letras Y Figuras approach to present a visual narrative of our rich heritage as a people.

Edgar, who lives and paints in the family’s place of origin in Iloilo City, presented a more relaxing theme in oil and acrylic on canvas about the beauty and lure of the beach and the life close to the sea. A frequent visitor of Boracay Island, he has experienced a more remote yet more internationally exposed life there in that island with white sand beaches so loved by multi-national tourists.

All of the above show an interesting mélange of art by beginners, amateurs and professionals and the accompanying contrast between youth and older age. It draws the line between innocence and a mind full of or bothered by serious concerns and issues affecting a person or the society. Although the older ones have more time to do art while their sunsets are still far away, the dawning of the promising talents of the younger ones may yet show a new breed of artists in the Ferraris family.

Art is a God-given talent used as a tool to aid in one’s better existence. Yet above all these, and given the possible temptations that an artist might face after success or failures in this chosen field , it is the true, strong and real Christian spiritual enlightenment that is the strong foundation to guide artists to be able to become good stewards of this extraordinary blessing. Moreover, as life is a gift in itself, it must be meant to glorify the One who gave it.

Monday, June 30, 2008


The recent news about the victory of a Filipino boxer has dominated the headlines and has probably grabbed the attention of the world.

I am not a fan of boxing anymore because I hated violence ever since I came to a point of realization. But this image above represents the inner conflict in man as he struggles against himself on the issue regarding which path in life he has to choose.

What is disturbing is when our country's leaders see that the victory of a Filipino in the world of boxing becomes " a welcome salve to a nation suffering from high prices of oil and food, the devastation from a recent typhoon, and the tragedy of another vessel sinking."

But the question is, what does this somewhat modern day gladiatorial combat do to the psyche of the young Filipino in the midst of reality that gun violence in the Philippines becomes a human security concern?

What message will our society's role model convey to the young while the evil culture of violence is still a serious but dormant problem?

Indeed there are a lot of threats to our young kids nowadays starting from the separation of parents as a result of broken marriages, the destruction of the kids' spiritual and moral values because of this disunity of parents, the resultant effects of being forced to join bad company because of the lack of a comfort zone called real strong family and more and more negative results that awaits a young child.

Kindly read Misleading Heroes and Dangerous Toys.

Tracing one's own shadow is a challenging task...

You have to be very accurate and precise in order to do the perfect form.

"BAWAL ANG UMIHI DITO" ("DON'T PISS HERE") is one familiar sign in public areas reminding people of discipline, decency,morality and order.

My brother Nelson arrived with my 82 year-old Mom to attend our first art group show in Hong Kong titled "IT RUNS IN THE BLOOD: THE FERRARIS ARTISTS GROUP SHOW" Here he is measuring the gallery floor area in preparation for the exhibition where he will be the curator.

Friday, June 27, 2008


All photos in this entry, except the last one, were taken by my 2 guests using my own camera.

Last Tuesday, June 24, was the closing party for this mural project. Well, that's meant for the PhilArtsFestHK calendar only but still my work continues until such time that I will be satisfied with the whole painting. The mural is available for public viewing in the gallery until July 2 anyway.

Today two of my friends arrived at the gallery. Here, posing in a Kung Fu-like stance, is professional photographer Victor Bautista. He was responsible for taking my photos for the cover of Review Asia and the photos of Artist Elizabeth Briel for the same magazine.

Review Asia is a new and classy magazine.

With Victor was Butch Durias, the president of the UP Alumni Association Hong Kong chapter. He is also a photographer and plays organ very well at the Rosary Church. He and Victor are members of the Pinoy Photographers Club. Their recent exhibition was Ex-Press at the Philippine Consulate, Hong Kong.

Butch posing as The Thinker standing. (Where will I eat my dinner? When will he finish this mural?)

The work goes on for me...

...and I just pause to talk to guests or have my snacks.

As you look at the mural you will see that it is very complicated and requires a lot of meticulous job. This is the signature of my art through all these years. Try and visit the links at the bottom of the column on the right and you will see my previous works done with lots of details. But it pales in comparison to the works of my brothers sometimes.

The story written by Ms. Smiley Julve about this project is now published in The Sun. I will write the full and in-depth explanation and meaning about this mural shortly.

Wow! That's my lovely wife Sally. We're enjoying the delicious Kebab, our dinner after a day's painting job. It feels good to truly love and be loved by the mother of your kids. This strong relationship resting on very strong Christian spirituality lays the right foundation for our kids.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


The closing party, the date of which was squeezed into the calendar of this year’s PhilArtsFestHK, was meant to gather friends and art enthusiasts to the gallery once again for them to see the outcome of the mural after it was started last June 3. The four blank canvas panels are now full of elements, images in line drawing-like patterns of various things and people.

Despite the sudden news that Typhoon Signal #1 was hoisted here in Hong Kong, which was expected to be raised to #8, still friends who are serious about supporting the art of Hong Kong-based Filipino artists arrived at the gallery.

It is sad sometimes to see the same faces in our exhibitions all these years and this observation was even shared by a Hong Kong-based foreigner who is supporting Philippine art all these years. I just hope that the so-called "curse" does not affect the small community of Filipinos here in this place which is much closer to home.

Despite the all-out publicity now and the growing popular knowledge that there exists a festival of arts and culture of Filipinos here in this world city we still have to see people going in droves to art galleries showcasing the works of Filipino artists the way the public is interested with the Hong Kong Art Fair.

What comes to mind is the relevance of art done by Filipinos in particular or the relevance of art in general in the lives of people more preoccupied with surviving while the prices of commodities are rising.

To me, if art only serves to satisfy the investment aspect rather than convey a strong message to at least uplift people's souls or even lead artists to have a more positive outlook in life or a clean life then these art pieces will just remain as mere commodities adding to the pile of rubbish that add to a depressing personal life once the interest on them fades away completely.

Artist Noel de Guzman, whose new works are part of the ongoing group exhibition at the Floren Gallery, is one of the most prolific Hong Kong-based Filipino artists. His forthcoming solo exhibition titled Cyclic Circles will open on Thursday, June 26, 2008 at the Karen Weber Gallery here in Hong Kong.

Ms. Tessie from Archangel Gallery

Is collecting and investing in Philippine art really relevant and an enviable opportunity? What is Philippine art? Are those art done by Filipinos elsewhere considered Philippine art?

My concern is not necessarily confined to all topics or things Filipino but that which are common to all peoples of this world. Divorce, separation, apostasy and all those negative things affecting a person are serious matters of concern and art could play an important role to help people become enlightened. But if I myself is lost morally and spiritually what good is my art if my concern is only fame and money?

And what happens to an artist whose life remains miserable after the glare of spotlights focused on him and his art fades after each and every media-hyped exhibition?

What's this mysterious image in the mural all about? If you want to know about it plus some more surprises about this new art piece just come and visit SARA SENE GALLERY.


The mural after DAY 11.

At this point the main elements that I intended to include in the mural are already there but it will take several days more to do the necessary refinements until I achieve the perfect effect that I have in mind.

It's a tricky job to document the progress of this mural simply because I am not a professional photographer. But today I discovered a way to get rid of the strong effects of those overhead directional lights on each mural panel. I switched them all off, including the fluorescent lights inside the gallery, and instead used the floodlight to achieve a more even distribution of light on the mural before taking pictures.

I could only work for several hours on this project each day because my eyes are getting tired looking at it. Although it is very hard to do this painting there is a compelling reason why I am still doing it. Let's wait for the issue of The Sun to come out first this weekend before I upload my whole explanation regarding the meaning of this new art piece.

Can you guess what technique am I using to be able to achieve the purpose of painting that hidden image in this mural? At this stage it is not yet very clear in the photo.