I was privileged to have been invited to another artist's home this summer. Melencio Sapnu, Jr, veteran painter and friend was taking a breather from his hectic schedule in Manila and was in the area. He was working to finish a collection for an upcoming exhibit and because of a timely chance meeting in facebook that day, me and my sister were lucky to have been invited in his studio.
I first met Mang Melencio through my cousin Rochelle who is classmates with one of his children. At the time, I was just beginning to immerse myself in watercolors and really had no idea about the other side of painting - the career side. When I learned that we had an artist living in our subdivision, I was ecstatic and also afraid. At the time, my idea of what artists are run more on the eccentric and moody types and I was sure he would be intolerant of beginners like me. Well, blame it on the movies. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was surprised at how genial and humble the man is. He was working on a painting by the side of their house when Ate Leng, his wife, let us in. Instead of getting distracted by the intrusion, after the introductions, he went back to painting and filled us in on what he was doing. A natural teacher, he was in his elements. From him, I learned how important drawing is and how even when he was little, he knew his life would revolve around art. He used everything he could get his hands on to practice rendering and would even draw with a stick on sand or soil if he didn't have any implements with him at the time and he was seized by an idea. No wonder he's very proficient in all of the mediums. I have seen one of his watercolors hanging in the municipal hall. His numerous pastels and oils grace many buildings both here and abroad. Beautiful works, one and all. When he showed me and my sister what he was currently working on, I couldn't speak because even though I had an idea of his later works through the pictures I see in his facebook albums, I really wasn't prepared for the actual beauty of the pieces. The camera could not capture the colors and do justice to the textures. Perhaps because I'm very partial to the Impressionists, I was captivated by his use of pure colors.
Just to show you some of what I'm talking about. These are just small portions of his latest oil paintings. Masterful brushworks. I will not spoil the surprise of the future exhibit by showing the paintings in entirety (except for the one the artist posed with). But for those interested in his works, he has some of his paintings hanging at Galerie Y at the Megamall. Galerie Y also has a website. Interested collectors may inquire directly. Link to the site provided at the end of this article.
Some of his works were featured in a compilation book of notable Filipino artists. I should have remembered to ask him how interested collectors may get a hold of it. I promise to get back to you on this one.
I am also going to ask our post office if they could still get hold of some of the Philippine stamps featuring his work.
I think it funny that despite being encouraged by Ate Leng to call him Kuya, we still refer to him as Mang Melencio. For non-Tagalog speakers, "Mang" when attached to the first name of a person is form of addressing somebody with respect, an honorific. I guess it is in deference to the man and the artist.
Plans for the future include another trip abroad for an international exhibit. He has recently taken part in an international exhibit in China. And if his schedule permits, free oil painting lessons for the children in our Barrio. He's always keen to share his blessings and delights when he sees artistic potential in people. I asked if "older" children are allowed. I'm hoping me and my sister could sign up for the lessons. He thought I was kidding until I said it is not always that we get a chance to learn from a master. Good thing I kept all my oil painting supplies.
Click link below to see available paintings of the artist.
Melencio Sapnu Jr at Galerie Y
Thank you sir, for letting us visit in your studio.