ARTIST AT WORK: Finding happy

With or without a mask, we are all clowns covered in the smiles of our “resiliency” while suffering from hunger and poverty in the pits of our stomachs.


Just like artist’s Marco Banares’ Wala man bahid ng kalungkutan. Huwad naman ang kasiyahan—an unmasked clown looking at the mirror, devoid of its usual optimism. 

“This painting reflects the story of the clown after a hard day’s work. We can all relate to him on how we are wearing various masks throughout the day. When we remove one mask, we put on another one, and face what stands before us,” shares Banares. 

Various stories behind the mask were also showcased in his fifth solo exhibition “Unknown Heroes” at the Village Art Gallery. His collection is a tribute to the heroes around us—not only the front liners but the vendors, the workers, and those who are serving the community. 

“They are the unmasked heroes, the man on the street who are not recognized but are considered heroes by their family and loved ones. We all saw the struggles the front liners are facing, giving their services whether on the street or inside the hospital. They deserve honor in this time of pandemic,” he says. 

His Padayon, which means “to continue” or “tuloy lang” in Filipino, is the man walking in the heat of the sun to provide for his family while providing a little cheer in his business of selling balloons. Notice how this man, instead of walking, is now sitting on a plastic stool, barefoot. One could say that behind that mask is the vendor catching his breath from walking all day.

Homesick is about Filipinos who are forced to be miles apart from their families because of the community quarantine—those who cannot go back to their provinces for fear of spreading the virus to their loved ones, those struggling alone while providing from their far-away family. Behind the smiling mask are their eyes of sorrow, longing to go home. 

Nagsunog Ng Kilay, Mata Nagliyab is Banares’ self-portrait about how this experience has become an eye-opener for all of us, that the world should not be all about beauty and we should recognize the struggles of the people around us. “I want my audience to look beyond the beauty and recognize the message of my paintings. I hope they appreciate the little things that happen to them, good or bad because everything happens for a reason.”

His Garbage Content are the garbage collectors serving the community even though some treat them exactly like the object of their occupation—trash. Yet, they continue to serve because their small salary is what keeps their family happy.  

Viewers will see themselves one way or another in Banares’ paintings. And while they are self-reflecting their own stories behind the mask, we hope that they also recognize the unmasked story of the people beside them and be sensitive to their condition. 

Banares has always been empathetic to the struggles of the people around him. Aside from using his exceptional talent to share their stories, he also auctions them off to provide for the people in need. 

In one of his previous exhibits, “Inbox,” he showcased seven paintings on how the struggles of COVID-19 affected him and the country—the world concealed with masks trying to survive. 

Village Art Gallery is located on the upper ground floor of Alabang Town Center, Muntinlupa City.

Source: Manila Bulletin (