The Golden Cord © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023
The Golden Cord © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023 | Foto: The Golden Cord © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023

The Golden Cord

Por: Diego Cerón

23, February, 2023 en Business Concept

The Golden Cord by Geraldine Zialcita

The roles of a mentor and protégé symbolize a golden cord and are forever intertwined. While the mentor offers advice, sound judgment, and a good disposition for the protégé, the protégé, on the other hand, applies what they have learned and carries those valuable lessons and wisdom to the next in line, attaching the golden cord with charms, embellishments, and garnishes to spread beauty, passion, and love along the way. The golden cord never breaks and becomes sturdier as it grows, never forgetting its origin and what is was designed to be.

Charlie was born and raised in Bacolod, Negros Occidental, Philippines. While his father operated their furniture factory and family business below their ancestral home, young Charlie spent countless hours on top of the roof staring at the sky, oblivious to his surroundings while he created visual images in his mind. “The roof was my playground and I found it normal to daydream and get lost in my own world. Dreams and imagination are part of your creativity,” he shares.

Aside from his exposure to the family’s furniture manufacturing business, Charlie often watched his sister paint which struck a chord in him. Drawn to current events since high school, Charlie discovered a way to integrate hard news and his personal experiences in his most tangible form of communication—Art. “I started painting at nineteen years old and told myself that this was what I was called to do since it gave me so much joy and satisfaction. Creating awareness and using my perception of how I see the world translates into my creative expression through paintings, sculptures, and drawing,” he conveys.

While pursuing his Fine Arts degree, Charlie stumbled upon a magazine that displayed an African landscape with the silhouette of the carabao on the field, matched with the backdrop of an intense red and orange sunset. “The colors of that picture stood out and have been etched in my memory. As I grew older and developed my craft, the colors I use intensified. I experimented with cadmium orange, cobalt blue, and cerulean blue, defining their layers and characteristics to produce a strong piece of artwork. Developing a palette takes years for an artist to master since acquainting with the colors and features requires lots of practice and imagination,” he stipulates.

The Golden Cord © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023
The Golden Cord © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023

Charlie held his first solo exhibit in 1983 called Expression, which truly revealed a strong identity of his work and focused on storytelling. Garnering multiple positive reviews, Charlie expresses deep gratitude to Nonoy del Prado and Ramon Hofileña for providing guidance and encouraging him to pursue this show. From his initial concept, Charlie identified his voice and listened to his gut. As the years passed, following an organic and steady process, his artistic voice amplified and has remained sustainable in his career.

When Charlie was twenty-four years old, he discovered that he was diabetic and his world turned upside down. Being involved in sports and living a healthy lifestyle changed dramatically for Charlie who was hospitalized and required insulin until this day. “This was quite a daunting experience for me. When you’re in your twenties and have so much in store for you, sickness is the last thing that enters your mind. Yet, my diagnosis forced me to question my mortality and be more cautious vs. carefree,” he reveals.

Demonstrating a different perspective of life and surroundings led Charlie to be more mature and profound in art and his outlook. The World Trade Center catastrophe, Vietnam War, and the COVID-19 pandemic are among the many incidents that contribute to Charlie’s artwork. Like a protagonist in a novel, Charlie navigates through the external struggles that transpire in the world, paralleling his internal obstacles to create meaningful and exceptional artwork. Surrealism integrated with Social realism content is the genre Charlie embraces, enabling him to merge the uneasy feeling matched with the reality happening in front of him. “The emotions are very personal and intense. Being perceptive and intuitive activates all my senses to see, hear, smell, feel, and taste the beauty that other people may not sense or appreciate. As an artist, I’m always in touch with my surroundings and imagination. My mind never sleeps and my dreams are reflections of my soul,” he describes.

As each artist traverses a unique process in creating art, Charlie is the pilot of his dreams, maneuvering the wheel to greater heights. He begins his regimen by communicating with the materials and canvas. After navigating the surface, Charlie determines its intensity by using hand gestures to slam the canvas. After releasing his powerful emotions from his heart to the canvas, Charlie brushes his fingers to feel the rough texture. He then creates six to eight layers of intense colors over modeling paste. As the painting evolves and takes shape, Charlie sits back and allows the emotions to unfold as he gets lost in a trance, swallowing it all in. “All my artwork is different and delivers fresh content. Seeing something that is within you, creating it, and sharing it with the viewers is the greatest satisfaction for an artist,” he briefs.

This accomplished artist has conducted more than forty solo exhibitions. He has showcased his work in numerous countries and has represented the Philippines in distinguished international events, like the Asian Modernism exhibition at the Japan Foundation Asian Cultural Centre in Tokyo and the 23rd Sao Paolo Biennial in Brazil. Charlie obtained the Thirteen Artists Award from the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 1990. Charlie is also recognized for his versatility in art where he uses clay and mixed media, oil pastel, pen and ink, and acrylic on modeling paste on canvas.

The Golden Cord © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023
The Golden Cord © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023

Charlie co-established the Black Artists of Asia (BAA) in Bacolod during the 80s to highlight the indigent sugarcane farmers. Charlie and his associates have played a fundamental role in cultivating artists in the Visayas region through their art biennial enterprise, the Visayan Visual Arts Exhibition and Conference (VIVA EXCON), celebrating three decades.

After four decades of being in the art industry, Charlie acknowledges that an artist never stops learning. He also values the camaraderie of other artists. “An artwork can take a week to forty years to complete. In reality, you need all these years to translate your imagination into the canvas. We are always learning and need to accept our strengths and weaknesses. I’ve been a team player since day one. What I learned from sports, I applied to my artistic life. I love the community and claiming victory is so much better as a team,” he states.

With his success and accolades, this distinguished artist believes in generosity and giving back to the community. In 2005, Ben “Bong” Lopue III, who back then was just an acquaintance since he was a lot younger than Charlie and a classmate of his nephews, reluctantly approached him one morning at a gas station while he was jogging. He asked Charlie if he would like to put up a gallery at the building he had just built nearby. Sharing the same dream, the two spearheaded Orange Gallery, a space designed to help budding artists establish a name and platform. It started as a small gallery in its first phase and expanded to a bigger space that had three main galleries. Gallery A was designed for changing exhibitions, Gallery B served to install art, and Gallery C was for gallery-curated exhibitions and a hallway to display small works. Currently, in its 17th year, Orange Gallery is now known as the Orange Project, probably the biggest contemporary gallery in Bacolod that sits on an 8,000 square meter property owned by Bong Lopue and his family, which is now called the Art District.

“This happened organically because my involvement in the art world is like my left and right hand. Sharing the same vision with Ben, we choose to make an impact in the art scene by sustaining the artist’s creativity. Orange Project is where we laid the groundwork for the artists to develop their foundation. Through this space, we have developed a collective mind where we share ideas and learn from one another, delivering an effective process and teamwork. The same goes for the whole of the Art District, which we call our playground. It’s all about making creative ideas into reality,” he informs.

In 2012, Charlie met artist Darel Javier during his solo exhibit at Orange Project. Charlie played a significant role in Darel’s life who drew inspiration from his mentor. “I’m honored to be Darel’s mentor and my advice to him and all the other artists out there is to follow your own style. If you are inspired by me and my passion and dedication to art, at the end of the day it’s up to the artist to choose the direction they wish to go. Mentorship is not literally telling the artist what to do, but indirectly inspiring them through your artwork. Mentorship is important because it sustains an idea. The artists you mentor will do the same for their protégé, and so on and so forth. We need to do this because the infrastructure is there. Leading the next generation of artists will enable them to mentor the next generation. We implement a strong emphasis on long-term support and gathering the community together to be inspired by the artists,” he narrates.

The Golden Cord © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023
The Golden Cord © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023

Eight years ago, Charlie underwent a kidney transplant. Facing a close encounter with death, reminded Charlie how precious life is. Yet, he never succumbed to defeat or held a pity party. Charlie is relentless with art as he is with life, affirming that a crisis will always make him stronger. During his free time, Charlie loves traveling with his wife, shopping, and indulging in different cuisines. “We always have to savor the moments we have and share the blessings,” he relays.

With his advocacy to keep Orange Project sustainable, Charlie and his team are committed to developing great artists so they can inspire the world and the next generations to come. “I always ask myself to check what is happening around us and what we can do to make a difference. Our role is to sustain a community. We encourage budding artists to come and visit us. We will listen to their voice and provide the platform. Our goal is to extend our space to other artists in quaint towns. We also want to sharpen the skills of each artist by developing an artist residency. Orange Project will allow the artists to fulfill their dreams, share their story, and be the future mentors for the next lifetime,” he imparts.

Charlie concludes his story with valuable advice to aspiring artists. “Be true to your work. Stay grounded and humble.”

As an artist, Charlie is heedful of his surroundings, intense in creativity, and phenomenal with his work. As an advocate, he is generous with his time, supportive of other people’s artwork, and committed to making an impact in the community. Charlie Co harnesses art to communicate, inspire, and create a ripple effect, defining his true purpose in life.

Trailing behind his mentor’s footsteps, Darel Javier demonstrates a strong voice, identity, and direction with his art. Born and raised in Bacolod, Negros Occidental, Philippines, Darel was exposed to art at a very early age. Belonging to a family of artists, young Darel, and his brothers would draw on the walls of their home. When his father painted the walls years later to cover their childhood drawings, Darel and his brothers repeated the same regimen and received a scolding from their father. “He reminded us that we were no longer kids and we should use our canvas or sketch pad,” he giggles.

Darel pursued a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture in the Philippines, then moved to North Carolina where he spent almost seven years working in the construction industry. As soon as Darel returned home to the Philippines, his childhood passion continued to haunt him. “I had to choose between wearing a suit and joining the corporate world or getting my hands dirty with paint. I’m glad I chose the latter because I felt a huge weight escape from my shoulders. I picked up my paintbrush and never looked back,” he divulges.

To date, Darrel has been a Visual Artist for the past ten years. Never forgetting how it all started, Darel highly acclaims his father for being a strong influence in his life. “In 1968, my father carved a mural featuring the sugar industry in the PNB bank which was known to be the longest wood mural in Asia. I followed his footsteps and initially embraced the Realism form of painting. While my father prefers to use acrylics, I use oil,” he shares.

The Golden Cord © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023
The Golden Cord © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023

Darel is fortunate to work in his studio where he arranges his paint brushes by size and type and palettes in a synchronized order. “A typical day for me would be to wake up between 2:00 to 3:00 am depending on whether there is a deadline. By 6:00 am, I take an hour morning run which I do three times a week. Once I return, I cook breakfast and then drop my wife at the office. Once I’m back, I’m free to paint. We have dinner together at home and catch up on our Netflix shows before retiring to bed,” he relays.

Like the captain of his ship, Darel believes in determining the direction and requirements before he sets sail. Everything starts with daydreaming and using your imagination. After he has seen a clear and concise concept in his mind, Darel uses a pen to sketch the drawings on a pad. After analyzing the features of his drawing, Darel moves on to creating wonders on the canvas. “Art enables you to escape from reality and allows you to create your veracity. You can forget everything when you paint. Painting injects power and also provides hope. There are no limits for an artist who uses a canvas as his playground. Painting is an emotional experience and a form of creative expression.” He smiles.

As Darel’s career evolved, he stepped out of his comfort zone and ventured into a deeper avant-garde form of painting called Surrealism. With his background in architecture, Darel has infused graphics in his artwork and credits Maurits Cornelis Escher as his source of inspiration. Another visual artist Darel looks up to is Michael Basquiat He admires his guts and determination for being able to fulfill his dreams. “I feel more connected with Surrealism since it’s less common and truly resonates with me. It all boils down to the style of the artist. We may have similar traits, yet we remain original by producing work that comes from our imagination and soul,” he states.

Darel’s paintings are reflections derived from his experiences. Most of his artwork are self-portraits injected with symbols, vibrant colors, and underlying messages. Using a thorough study of images and compositions has enabled Darel to merge contemporary and traditional methods. “Art is an expression of freedom, delivering a strong identity and message from within,” he expresses.

Darel is grateful he can make a living through his creative pursuit, yet despite the triumphs, Darel also encountered setbacks. “First of all, time serves as a huge factor since there are too many distractions. I manage this by waking up in the wee hours of the morning to get a head start. Secondly, finances will always be an issue since an artist doesn’t have a fixed income. You need to do the very best, combined with a lot of prayers, then everything else will follow. Last but not least, every artist needs a supportive partner because not everyone will understand the unconventional work you do,” he discloses.

Darrel conducted his first solo exhibit in Orange Gallery which is now known as the Orange Project. This is where he met Charlie Co and felt a strong connection with his work. “For the past ten years, I’ve learned more valuable lessons beyond painting and art. I’m grateful for Charlie’s wisdom and advice because it’s genuine and realistic. He said told us that even if we feel our work is good and we’re not famous, no collector will ever notice our work. Even if our work is displayed right in front of them, they won’t pay attention to our art unless it’s very very beautiful. We need to capture their attention by blowing their minds away. The only way to do this is to be authentic with what you paint, integrating your heart and mind to deliver the best artwork,” he imparts.

Darel won the 2014 Juror’s Choice Visayas Art Awards (Philippines Art Awards) and has been showcasing his work since he started. He is preparing for a solo exhibition next February 2023 at Secret Fresh gallery.

When he’s not painting, Darel spends time with his wife and son exploring different beaches or going to the mountain. He hopes to continue building a strong presence and brand in the art industry so, in return, he can also inspire and mentor aspiring artists in the industry. “I’m very fortunate to have Charlie as my mentor, and my goal is to encourage and motivate other artists to fulfill their dreams and be successful with their art,” he concludes.

Darel attests that there are no rules or perfect recipes to art, yet every artwork should represent a piece of yourself.

Charlie and Darel understand their craft, stand for what they believe in, and share a deep enthusiasm and passion of giving back to the community. Through their efforts, support, and commitment, mentor Charlie Co and protégé Darel Javier will forever be the recipients of the unbreakable golden cord as they preserve the strength, value, and impact in the art industry.

CHARLIE CO @artofcharlieco

Writer: GERALDINE ZIALCITA @geraldineauthor
Creative Director: RONNIE J. BALDONADO @baldonadoronnie
Copy Editor: KIEDO VILLANUEVA @kei_villanueva
Art Director: NIGEL JOHN DEL MUNDO @nigeldelmundo
Photographer Assistant: MARK JERIC AYALA @jecjecayala
Location Manager: JOSHUA FONTELO
Lighting Director: JOE MARIE SANCLARIA @sanclaria_arts
Transportation Provided By: CRISTINA DE ASIS @cristina_deasis
Photographer: VINCENT GOTTI @vinniegotti
Location: ORANGE PROJECT GALLERY in Bacolod Philippines @orangeproject_ph