A regional painter’s dreams on canvas

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THE LATE Tarlac-born Perfecto Mercado painted movie billboards for a living before shifting to canvas painting in 1975.

Mercado, who had no formal education in the arts, was inspired by biblical stories and spiritual dreams. It was only in the 2000s that he began rendering these dreams in his paintings. However, he did not witness the fruition of his works since he passed away due to a stroke in 2011, at the age 60.

A collection of his works is currently on view at the Gateway Gallery in an exhibition titled Dreamscapes: The Art of Perfecto Mercado, while his life is chronicled in a coffee table book of the same title.

“As an artist, gusto niya palaging kakaiba yung trabaho. Ayaw niyang gumagaya sa iba. Hindi siya mapakali sa isang istilo, gusto niya may laging panibago (As an artist, he always wanted his works to be unique. He did not like to imitate others. He did not settle for a single style. He always wanted something new),” Arnold Mercado, the late artist’s eldest son, told BusinessWorld at the Aug. 25 launch.

According to Mr. Mercado, his father was a prayerful man. He regularly read the Bible and wrote striking passages in a notebook, both of which he kept on his work table along with his art materials.

His son added that it was in the 1980s that his father began having spiritual dreams. Eternal Force, which shows an image of a woman representing a mother of a nation who is closely facing an image of the crucified Christ, is about salvation. Binhi, one of the artist’s favorite works, depicts poor souls being saved from Hell against a background of a forest. Recurring images of camouflaged faces, meanwhile, represent love—“the only solution to the problems in the world,” according to the late painter.

To commemorate the artist’s life and works, Arnold Mercado decided to compile everything into a book. The book’s author, art historian and museum curator Gari R. Apolonio said that the book took 10 years to finish. “It [the book] is a representation of a landscape but also a mindscape about an inner consciousness,” Mr. Apolonio told BusinessWorld about the book’s title and contents.

Mr. Apolonio described the late painter’s aesthetic as simply pure. “Regional artists add texture to the [art] landscape. They have a different story to tell,” he said. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman

Dreamscapes: The Art of Perfecto Mercado is on view until Sept. 9 at the Gateway Gallery located at the 5F Gateway Tower, Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon city. It is open from Monday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. For book orders, visit The book is priced at P3,000.