I am privileged to be the proud owner of a Tata Sevilleno watercolor. The artist gave it to me because I so admired her work – pastel flecks of color streaking across a black sky. This was in 2016 when Tata newly took the leap from corporate life in Manila into the world of art in Negros. For me, it was not surprising for her to plunge into painting because her brother Edbon is an established watercolorist. This is what I thought. But the reason is deeper than water and has a more profound significance on her psyche. “Painting with watercolors is therapy for me. It is with working with water that makes it relaxing.” In 2015, she was stricken with anxiety disorder and Art was the great escape from the onset of depression. Painting became her therapy and look where it led her to.
This visual artist a.k.a. TeySev had created an impact in so short a time by evolving from doing landscapes to houses. Balai-Balai ni Tey opened last December 13 as another testament to how Tata took an even higher leap from watercolorist to mosaic artist. Sixty art pieces (19 watercolor paintings, 30 miniature paintings and mosaic art, and 11 mosaics made with hand-cut ceramic tile tessarae, sea glass, and colored glass) in the exhibition are about playing house or talking about many houses. Actually, earlier works on the subject of houses started Tata’s love affair with them on canvass. These houses are neither mansions nor modern digs, but the abodes of informal settlers along the coast or on the sea itself. TeySev’s amazing perspective of the poor man’s urban home gave these houses romantic, colorful (as opposed to dismal) and happy airs. You begin to see a new world in these paintings and you begin to see their humanity.
TeySev likes to paint and sketch as she travels, and sometimes she travels alone around the Philippines and Southeast Asia including a very memorable week-long immersion in Chiang Mai. This gives her the flexibility to choose her subject and paint according to her personal clock. (“Travel sketching is capturing moments frozen in time.”) She even travels to far-flung areas including mountainous places and gets to share her art with children who are interested in art but do not have access to art workshops. She also gets to teach indigenous people how to do art as TeySev does it.
This year, TeySev finally got to express her artistic talent through mosaic. She had always admired mosaic art for a long time, but her self-doubt got the better of her. She thought she couldn’t do it and she thought doing mosaic was too difficult for her. Last summer, upon the invitation of Bacolod mosaic artist Gigi Campos, Tata was able to “just do it”. She did it with so much enthusiasm (again another leap, coupled with a passionate plunge) that in one-and-a-half months, she produced 10 pieces of mosaic artwork. Bravo, Tata! You have joined the roster of mosaic artists in Negros. (“Mosaic, for me, is reliving life’s great moments one tile at a time.”)
Balai-Balai ni Tey runs until January, 2020 at Modern Hut Café in The Marketplace. Watercolors on Arches Paper are 12” x 9” and 16” x 12”. During her travels to Palawan, she was inspired along the way by how the children still played indigenous games despite the presence of gadgets and digital games. These watercolors are TeySev’s love letter to her childhood and her love for our country’s islands.