While friends and associates who have known Christel Pichay may sometimes find him with a dry sense of humor, this prolific artist has a self-deprecating one, sharing, “I have just learned how to paint. Now, I may aspire to become an artist.”
This amidst the on-going US exhibit tour 2nd Journey organized by Ugnayan Pilipino Arts Foundations, Inc. The New York leg showing seven of his most recent rendition of favorite themes: Vigan views and scenes have just been concluded May 8 and will proceed to Washington D.C. at the Philippine Embassy on May 13-23, and San Francisco Philippine Center on June 5 - 7, 2008.
Christel have had a long winding journey with his skills and talent with the brush prior to where he is now. Born from supportive parents --- mother Jane and known painter David Pichay in Vigan--- he grew up to an environment reminiscent of European, specifically Spanish, influence. A UN Heritage Site, Vigan exudes of antiquity, historical architecture, and a witness to the morphing of negligence to almost glorious restoration, so much like the child Christel who has grown to capture the international art enthusiast. While Christel may have rendered modern, albeit commercial murals, commissioned paintings, and many other types, subjects and themes of visual arts, he remains a humble devotee to the Renaissance as the majority of art connoisseurs and patrons will always be.
Jane has noticed the affinity of Christel in childhood when he first held a pencil. An artist’s son may at most shy away from a father’s shadow, but instead, his parents brought him paint brush to encourage his natural talent. He further honed his skills in the University of the Philippines’ College of Fine Arts, but this part of his learning, too, took a lot of detour as Christel still had to take one course after another prior to finding once again his destined career, as an artist.
“I still need a lot to learn, actually,” he insists, nevertheless. “Before I become a full-pledge artist, I need to know where I am going, memorize each cobblestone, street, corner, walls, dents, sceneries, every angle and view of where I am.” And for Christel, though he may have started to realize a dream to showcase his talent to a wider audience, he remained rooted and grounded in his land of birth as richly depicted in his paintings.
He had been commissioned to work on wall murals by restaurant owners, television productions, and a variety of establishments, sold several of his works, joined a string of group exhibits, including 2nd Journey where his works were showcased together with the works of fellow artists Jonathan Galicano, Adler Llagas, and Angelito Florendo, but his quest to improve and grow goes on.
As may be glimpsed from his pieces, Christel have developed his style: from expressionism, chiaroscuro, to impressionism, almost reminiscent of Vincent Van Gogh or Claude Monet. But among his works, Christel has highly regarded his “Kalesa” which was sold to a patron who wished to remain unknown to him. “I have considered it as symbolical to what I would want to produce soon and in the near future,” he said. The painting depicts a classic Vigan scene, the wooden horse carriage and “cuchero” with the old Vigan houses as backdrop.
Likewise, other prevalent and favorite subjects include the old woman in the Tobacco Field of which Christel fondly recalls as a scene in hilly Naravacan, another town in his province Ilocos Sur which natives claim to be where Noah’s arc shored; the burnay or jar makers and of course, the famous jars of Vigan.
“There are a lot of challenges to achieving even a solo exhibit,” Christel admits. “It’s a lot of work, sacrifice, and would need a lot of support from patrons.” But as his works continue showing progress and appeal comparable to classic Renaissance pieces, there is much hope to Christel’s dream of staging one. After a long journey, he, after all has shown well he knew where he came from, with dexterity only a master could execute.
If you are interested in Christel Pichay's works or you want to send him a message, you can contact the artist through email at this address: christelpichay[at]yahoo.com