Reintroducing premier artist Edmund Bendijo

Constantino Tejero Philippine Daily Inquirer 05.06.2008 11:46


ONLY A FEW FILIPINO artists have flourished in France: Nena Saguil, Ofelia Gelvezon Tequi, Juvenal Sanso, Vitalis, Edmund Bendijo. Of them, Bendijo is the least known in his native country. Before it’s too late, a former attaché in Paris, Junie del Mundo, is helping to reintroduce Bendijo, now in his mid-50s, to his countrymen

“I don’t want him to be the same case as Vitalis, whose works were owned by the butcher and the baker and then all of a sudden he became known in Europe,” says Del Mundo.

Bendijo just opened a group exhibit in Nice, where he is showing five pieces in oil and acrylic on canvas. It is an atelier show which will later be taken to Lille.


He lives in Lille, that industrial part of France close to the Belgian border—“a cloudy place, one of the ugliest parts of France,” says Del Mundo.

“I like cloudy,” Bendijo sheepishly counters. “I don’t like sunny.”

In fact, his favorite color is blue. He says his early works were sad, but now they’re gay—especially when he works in the garden, the forest, the countryside.

It must be the Filipino in him that hankers for festive hues, no matter how deeply you bury him in a cloud bank. In fact, some of his works resemble the multicolor kiping-inspired abstractions of National Artist José Joya.

Bendijo acknowledges the influences of Joya and Robert Delaunay on his work. He also loves the works of National Artists Cesar Legaspi and Bencab, as well as Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin and Matisse.

“Before, Filipino art was naïve. Now it’s more Occidental,” he muses.

He believes his use of color identifies him as Filipino, though. Color harmony is also very important to him, as well as harmony in composition.

Bendijo insists on symmetry and balance in composition, which would make his taste rather conservative and his ideas conventional, given asymmetric design or atonal music.

The following statement, for instance, is telling: “I don’t much like Conceptual Art, although I can appreciate it


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