Purveyor of Knowledge and Emerging Publisher of Philippine Art
May 1, 2017


 

 


Ibarra de la Rosa

“Trees”

Oil on Canvas

36’ x 36’

1994

Patrick and Billie Syling Collection

 

 

ART COLLECTOR: PATRICK SYLING

by: Christiane L. de la Paz

 

Patrick Syling was never taught to appreciate art as a young boy.  As a Chinese-Filipino growing in the busy town of Binondo, he was trained early on to help in the family business and art was not something you would expect his family to discuss. It was only when he was a grade school student in Ateneo where the basic techniques in charcoal, watercolor, and oil were introduced to him by still life painter, Araceli Dans. Syling recalls that Dans cultivated a love of art among her students which made him look forward to attending each session of art class. In high school, his love for arts grew even more as art teachers, Pandy Aviado and Brenda Fajardo, encouraged his artistry and started his life long journey to art appreciation. Continuing his studies abroad, Syling came home after completing his MBA degree in Santa ClaraUniversity in California to focus on his family’s business and start a family.

 

In the mid-1980s, his love for arts resurfaced as he began decorating the house he shares with his growing family. Now, in a newly-built house in the heart of Quezon City, Syling lets me in his quiet abode where he exhausted every wall and corner available in his house to showcase his art collections. Looking around the Syling’s house gives me the impression that the light and subdued color scheme very much appealed to the family’s relaxed sense of tradition. With a view of the open sky and a manicured garden, its forthright Mediterranean architecture, and its serene setting, the unpretentious three-storey house is an ideal stage to take a look and appreciate the beauty of each art piece he collected over the years.

 

 

 

Adler Llagas

“Yellow Fields”

Oil on Canvas

48’ x 48’

2004

Patrick and Billie Syling Collection

 

 

In the living room, works by contemporary artists like Juvenal Sanso’s “Deep Blue Sea,” Ibarra de la Rosa’s “Trees,” Serafin Serna’s “Dancers (8 Women),” Prudencio Lamarroza’s “Ecology,” Mike Austria’s “Oxcart series” are introduced together with the work of Adler Llagas’ “Yellow Fields.” “Adler Llagas is a young painter who is very talented and hardworking. When his painting was presented to me, I did not have second thoughts of buying his work because his painting is what I call “the kind of surprise that anyone who loves details is always looking for,” he says.


Serafin Serna

Dancers (8 Women)

Oil on Canvas

24’ x 24’

undated

Patrick and Billie Syling Collection

 

 

A different world was presented when I stepped through the door of the family’s work out area. Surrounded by numerous nude paintings of Cesar Legaspi, Solomon Saprid, Rafael Enriquez, Romeo Tabuena, Mario Parial, Jim Orencio, Malang, and Romulo Olazo, are neatly displayed. Some are rather powerful in terms of subject matter and technique, while others are much less so. “This room is my tribute to Cesar Legaspi, my favorite artist of all time. When I first saw his works in Luz gallery in the 80s, at a time when Legaspi was not that very famous, his works were already glorious, intense, and incredible to look at.” Syling shares.

 

  

Mario Parial

“Female Nude”

Pastel

19 ¼’ x 27’

1981

Patrick and Billie Syling Collection

 

 

Their second storey is another haven where he finds inspiration for creativity. It’s an ensemble of works by foreign and local artists alike. The list consist of  Lino Severino, Manuel Baldemor, Mia Herbosa, Tam Austria, Jose Mercado, Stella Rojas, Araceli Dans, Ferdinand Doctolero, Jim Orencio, Vicente Manansala, Onib Olmedo, German Icaringal, and several sculptural pieces by Impy Pilapil and Solomon Saprid. Likewise, a number of works by foreign artists bought from their trips abroad include Scottish artist, Doris Zinkeisen and Italian painter Luciano Poli.

 

Syling certainly chooses paintings with a discerning eye. He buys art that are appealing regardless of whether the artist is famous or not. “Through time, I have learned that all artists whether they are famous or not have flawed works. That’s understandable, they are human, too. But what I have learned through the years is to watch closely the careers of young artists. I am not so much into artists who have reached a certain level of success and have become commercial over night. It sometimes discourages me to buy works from them because when they know they are in demand, their works become mass produced. They paint standardized tasks because they know that people will buy them. Artists should recognize that by doing this, their creativity will lessen and the quality of their work will suffer,” he explains.

 

Syling readily admits that he developed his taste by being unafraid to make mistakes, experimenting with different genres, taking risks to support up-and-coming artists, and having an understanding wife. “It definitely wasn’t an overnight job,” he explains.  “I used to regularly visit galleries, read a lot of art books and magazines, talk to my friends who are art aficionados, and I make my way by trial and error. I remember turning down a big painting of Vicente Manansala when I was young only to my regret now. But I realized that I need to go through a lot of experimentation and heartbreaking experiences for me to appreciate what I have now.” He adds that his beautiful and caring wife, Billie, offers encouragement by simply “being there and understanding how much I love works of art.”

   

Jose Mercado

“A Lady with Jars”

Oil on Canvas

30’ x 30’

2004

Patrick and Billie Syling Collection

 

He also has a set of criteria for choosing an art work -- “I always consider the material used. I try not to collect paintings which make use of materials that are hard to maintain like watercolor or oil on paper. Other considerations I look are the details and time put in making the painting. This will certainly show the artist’s creativity and dedication to his work. My last consideration will have to be the title of the painting so as to be sure that I do not buy a literal translation of the work. One example of this that I’ve seen is “Edsa Revolution,” where you could see the faces of prominent personalities. This type of painting, as an example, appeals to me in a historical sense rather than for art appreciation. It will not make you even stop to take a look and interpret it as it does not leave any room for imagination.”

 


German Icarangal

“Abstract”

Watercolor

11. 5’ x 9.5’

undated

Patrick and Billie Syling Collection

 

Looking at all these magnificent art works right before my eyes, I could not help but ask, “How and where did he get all these?” Syling answers, “From different sources -- galleries, friends who know I like art, and sometimes from acquaintances who’d like to sell their collections. There are also times when the economy is in a recession, there are people who unload. I’d get calls from them selling their collections. When I like the work and I have the money to pay, then I buy. But I cannot force myself to buy every time because I have to give time to see the works of other artists.”

 

It is no wonder that Patrick Syling has given much thought and invested as much effort in making each of his art works become a part of their lives. “A house is not a home without the people and things you love. I am happy that my three children appreciate all the paintings I collected over the years.”

 

In the dining area, the vibrant colors and pleasant subject matter of Norma Belleza, a still life painting by Antonio Ko, a commissioned family portrait by Mike Austria, and a remarkable array of Ramon Orlina’s glass art lead to a warm and inviting aesthetic. Next to it is the family’s entertainment area where several paintings of Onib Olmedo’s musician series are on sight. Syling shares that the distorted faces, sort of monster-looking figures of Olmedo very much appeal to him. “These paintings haunt me but they are my favorites. Even though they appear morbid, distorted, and haunted, they are painted in happy and bright colors which somewhat enlivens this room.”

 
Antonio Ko

 

“ Still Life”

Acrylic on Canvas

24’ x 30’

1998

Patrick and Billie Syling Collection