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Blessed are the Flowers
art for a cause

2nd Major Art Exhibition
July 8 - 14, 2004
Galerie Astra at the Art Pavillion
LRI Business Plaza, 210 Nicanor Garcia St.
Bel Air II, Makati City

What we see are flowers in the soul-fields. Orchids, hibiscus, bromeliads, roses and other wonderful blooms in the Eden of Kim Belen Soriano. His paintings are not at all transfixed on paper. We could still catch the fragrance and secret of the flowers. As they are revealed to Kim, they are renewed in us.

Beautiful dazzling colors and strong vitality distinguish Kim's realistic floral paintings, all rendered in oil pastel on felt paper. His art is made all the more amazing by his life story. At age three, it became evident that Kim was a special child. Thus, he had the eye of a minimalist. He would draw a window to portray a house. A petal was a garden. He would declare he had drawn a bus whereas he had simply etched one number from the vehicle's registration plate.

Surprisingly in his adolescent years, he excelled in sports, winning the Special Olympics Gold Medals in track and field and swimming. But when he undertook evaluation in preparation for his trip to the USA, he was declared finely sound in mind and body, like any other youth of his age. Thus, he was promoted regular student at Miriam College, but had to forego the Special Olympics international competition.

Being the eldest son of Ricardo "Johnny" Soriano, Kim has always been surrounded by prodigious works of art. Johnny has been crafting handmade frames from such rare wood as narra and molave for more than 30 years. He was and still is regarded the frame authority for artists like Ben Cabrera, Jaime Zobel and Anita Magsaysay-Ho, just to name a few.

Overwhelming is the multitude of frames in different sizes hanging on walls and every possible space of the Soriano house cum workplace. We find here original paintings, sketches, portraits, landscapes, nudes, still life, abstracts, sculptures and many others. They all come from famous clients who have become Johnny's friends, proof of their esteem in which he is held for the love and diligent care he puts into enhancing their works.

Kept intact for posterity are paintings of national artists like H.R. Ocampo, Cesar Legazpi, Jose Joya, Vicente Manansala and Jerry Navarro. They were Johnny's clients even while Kim was yet in the womb of his mother, Yoly Belen. Johnny saw them rise increasingly to fame and eventually conferred the distinguished status of national artist.

No less than the late master Jerry Navarro had taught Kim the fundamentals of drawing and painting. As he brought his paintings for framing, Master Jerry also brought art materials for the young sensitive Kim.

Now in the third decade of his life, Kim has cultivated a special gift in painting the close view of flowers. In his pictures we sense the concentration of his vision and energy, yet all the more powerfully our interest is enlarged. We do not only receive invigorating freshness. We also witness lush patterns in amazing expansion and contraction, and sparkling harmony.

We may regard Kim's art as a kind of communion with Mother Nature. He receives her images as in a sacrament. For that is the great mystery of art. It is a moment in eternity when the artist meets the beings in the world of light, darkness and colors.

Like other good works of art, Kim's paintings connect us to the sacredness of life. His flowers, acutely focused as they are, direct us inwardly to our own heart, which beckons the blossoming of our own soul's beauty.

Kim paints at the Orchidarium Garden in Rizal Park where bouquets of nature are nestled on cascading stems and arching branches against the backdrop of glowing pond. His mentor today is Rafael Popoy Cusi, widely regarded the Philippines' master watercolor artist and proponent of the use of oil pastel on felt paper.

For the past three years, Popoy has been sharing his genius with a growing crop of students and artists who call themselves the Orchidarium Artists Group, of which Kim is a member. Advocating trust in spontaneous creativity, Popoy urges artists to liberate themselves from the rigid rules of conventional perspective and composition.

Rapid on-the-spot painting is characteristic of Popoy. That is why he questions the imagination of artists who use photographs as source of themes and motifs. "The resulting art is devoid of character and feeling!" he sneers. Popoy expounds that best efforts are stimulated in the artist who taps the highest power of direct observation.

Kim, who has a kind round face with soft mellow almond eyes, has thoroughly imbibed the said practice of drawing from nature, without copying it. His sustained attention and devotional intimacy with Mother Nature have refined his own genuine style as a painter.

Healing and blessings are key elements in Kim's art and life. It has been a marvelous spiritual journey for the whole Soriano family to experience moral and material support pouring in from generous helpers. When Kim was a young boy enrolled at the Special Children's Center, he was awarded scholarships through magnanimous donors whose identity remains unknown until today.

Hence, it was not surprising for Kim to follow the serendipitous path of healing and artistic journey as he was led to Lucena City. His first solo art exhibition appropriately entitled, Blossoms of Healing was held here from April to June at the Luisa Restaurant Gallery. Lucena is one of the communities nurtured by Mount Banahaw, the country's veritable national shrine of healing where millions of pilgrims flock yearly.

"When ripe for the task, Kim's naturalist eye and vigorous strokes of colors will perhaps be summoned by the sacred mountain which is home to numerous endangered Philippine blossoms," thus it was foretold by Maria Abulencia as she featured the artist in a written article.

And now, Kim's second major exhibition immediately follows the first, this time dubbed BLESSED ARE THE FLOWERS - art for a cause. Hoping to enlarge the circle of kindness and gratitude, Johnny Soriano's R. S. FRAME LINE CENTER has forged a tie with Robert Hong of GALLERIA BERNICE L.

They jointly sponsor Kim's exhibition, with the pledge to donate a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of paintings to charity, such as: a church to be built in Samar, and the work of nuns who take care of the sick and dying people found on the streets of Asian cities.

It is quite suitable for the exhibit's invitation to include the image of the Mother of Remedies. Such tribute to the Blessed Mother Mary is as luminous as Kim's vocation to light, colors and healing.

BLESSED ARE THE FLOWERS - art for a cause is open for viewing from July 8 to July 14 in Galerie Astra at the Art Pavillion located in LRI Business Plaza, 210 Nicanor Garcia Street, Bel Air II, Makati City.

For inquiries, please contact Johnny Soriano, Tel. No. (02) 802-0849 or Robert Hong, Tel. No. 0916-5897090. (AUTHOR: Maria Lourdes B. Abulencia)

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