Jake Alano devotes himself to life-affirming art

Jake Alano and his artwork entitled Forest Primeval.

Imagine yourself in the Alano household where a young Jake was obsessing about art because his parents were both practitioners. His father, Ben Alano, was a protégé of the master Fernando Amorsolo, while his mother, Leticia Custodio, was an Impressionist who trained under another masterful artist, Vicente Manansala. The boy grew up surrounded by their masterpieces in the art gallery owned by Ben in Ermita, Manila.

“But my artist-parents never encouraged me to be an artist,” relates Jake, now an artist known for his Realist paintings as well as portraiture (most notably of Jaime Cardinal Sin). His fifth solo exhibition titled “Cornucopia” is on view until April 30 at Robinsons Land ARTablado at the Level 3 Veranda or Robinsons Galleria.

“Cornucopia” features Jake’s 40-piece collection on Filipino culture and traditions which brim with hope and optimism — which the artist feels are much-needed in these direst of times.

To get to this point of his career, Jake had a lot of detours along the way.

“My parents pounded on my head to just study hard, and be a good and God-fearing individual.” Thus, he had to pursue other occupations until he decided that his true calling was to be like Ben and Leticia. Although they were unsupportive at the start, there were indications that both of them knew art was inevitable for their son.

“I started painting seriously in my late 20s,” says Jake. “I apprenticed under my father, doing preliminary mantsa (underpainting) for his commission works. I felt proud and excited because I was the only one he considered as a capable assistant.” The father-and-son tandem worked on the San Lorenzo Ruiz mural at the EDSA Shrine. “During that period, I had already learned from him a number of important techniques.”

Jake’s first two still life compositions were sold at an Ermita Gallery to his delight. The two artistic titans in his life offered inspiration and influence.

“I love the way my father depicted rural scenes and his mastery of the human figure. Although my mother could also paint realistic scenes, I admired her works of Impressionism. Her strokes and colors were very powerful and evocative, very unconventional for a woman artist. But like my father, I continue his legacy of Realism, focusing on the fast-disappearing culture and traditions of the past.”

Even if Jake’s style is similar to that of his late father, there is more dynamism in the rendering of his work — probably due to his martial arts practice, among other things. The man has his own signature style and subject-choice.

“(My paintings at ARTablado) would hopefully bring onlookers to a time well-remembered. And with all the negativity that pervades in this modern age, each art piece with its particular story could provide the much-needed joy in their lives.”

Jake chose ARTablado as the venue for this suite of paintings because of the idea that the exhibition space represents.

“I learned about ARTablado in the latter part of 2021 through fellow artist Joel Reglos. I was asked to join the Quezonian Artist Group for the exhibit titled ‘From My Roots’ in February of 2022. ARTablado is a venue that is welcome to artists — professionals or amateurs alike. Aside from the full support it gives, nothing compares to the warmth and camaraderie it manifests.”

And the artistic journey of the Alanos continues.

Jake shares, “My wife and I have an unico hijo who is a licensed electronic engineer and about to get his PhD in electrical engineering from a university in Taiwan. He is a skilled draftsman. I believe this is his artistic inheritance.”

Established in 2020, Robinsons Land ARTablado, a portmanteau of “art” and “entablado” is Robinsons Land’s very own stage in showcasing the Filipino ingenuity and creativity. This platform allows emerging artists to freely express themselves through art and paves the way to greater recognition of their talent and hard work. To date, ARTablado has mounted numerous exhibitions and hosted over 300 artists.

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