Philippine Panorama, 08 September 2013

Behold Katrina

By Jullie Yap Daza

There’s something about Katrina Pallon, painter. Every square inch of her canvases is filled with her brush strokes, in living color; no such thing as an unpainted surface for her, no sir. Yet she is able to hide some of her secret messages in plain sight. For example, a tropical nymph lavishly embellished in Oriental robes literally wears her heart on her chest, seen through an exposed ribcage. (No wonder, a cardiologist reserved this painting for his private collection, the moment he set eyes on it. Its title? “What Remains.”)

In another painting, Katrina very subtly places a fully opened rose, in the color of dried blood, on the wrist of the young lady staring back at you from the canvas. I did not notice the meaning behind the rose covering the right wrist, until I glanced at the title of the painting: “Cease to Bleed.” If Katrina, painter, is fascinated with anatomy and thoughts of suicide, she tries not to show that she’s morbid about it, though she may be telling us life is a matter of life and death. As far as her art is concerned, life is a jungle of intense experiences glossed over by bright colors, including the primary ones, and voluptuous images of beautiful women - her subjects look a lot like a certain Katrina Pallon - but who can blame her? She’s telling us that it is no accident that women - Eve’s daughters - happen to be the most attractive of the flora and fauna in that mysterious jungle.

There are peacocks in her world (as there are skulls), exotic blossoms blooming in the thick of the forest’s loveliest foliage, as well as on the coats of the women; there are pink flamingos and white cockatoos; and the most recent addition, silken lanterns glowing with an incandescent light, as if in an attempt to help the onlooker look for those hidden messages. Those large and lush flowers are also the painter’s way of hiding the wearer’s silhouette, forcing the viewer to trace where the blooming background ends and where the robe begins.

The Frida Kahlo influence is obvious, but our Katrina seems to be enjoying the second decade of her life. When she’s not painting, she sings and performs with a band. At the opening of her solo exhibition, five of her seven pieces had been sold, with more paintings to follow - as soon as the paint on them would dry.

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