[Arts Corner] Poetry and Drawings: The Tragic Story Behind the Artist’s Creation

artscorner

dannysillada

“At the core of all sublime masterpieces lies the looming shadow of creative scuffles between darkness and light. Behind those forms, colors, songs, or verses is an inexplicable melancholy, which is invariably distant and aloof, that only a creator succumbs to and traverses amid its indefinable presence.” 

~ Danny Castillones Sillada, Despair, Suicide & Aesthetics (Manila Bulletin, 2008)

Poetry and Drawings: The Tragic Story Behind the Artist’s Creation

(From Danny Castillones Sillada’s Journal “This Unbearable Inside Me”)

Abandoned Shoes (Still Life 2003), 11" X 10.5", ballpoint on paper by Danny C. Sillada.

Abandoned Shoes (Still Life 2003), 11″ X 10.5″, ballpoint on paper by Danny C. Sillada.

“The sadness will last forever,” [1] Vincent Van Gogh uttered these heartbreaking last words to his brother, Theo, before he succumbed to his death.

When my son John Daniel lost his first kitten from a tragic accident, I could feel the unbearable pain inside him. It was his first taste of sorrow, and watching him cry all day broke my heart into pieces. He was six years old.

When I told him that another kitten was coming, he strongly protested that he wanted his own kitten back. I was terrified, not because he wanted me to perform a miracle by bringing back the dead kitten, but the thought of how that particular loss had impudently broken the delicate shell of his innocent world. [2]

In 2003, he lost another kitten; he was nine years old. This time, he put it inside a plastic box before he went to school. He loved it so much that he wanted to protect it from his siblings. When he went home, he excitedly opened the box. But to his horror, the kitten was cold and immobile.

He, then, took and put the lifeless kitten in his frail arms as if he was making an offering to the gods. Tears unremittingly dripped from his eyes amid his two younger sisters’ sobbing. We did not speak about that tragic incident.

As a father, I could only embrace and kiss him with tenderness and compassion.  I could have brought him to a mall and bought out his grief with toys, games or rides. However, during that time, I could even hardly buy my art materials as a struggling artist.

The only thing I could do, which seemed logical, was to create something that would temporarily mollify his guilt and desolation. For a while, I could see my son smiling again, when he saw my surreal drawings of goldfish and kitten, but his delicate smile was no longer the same.

A.2. John Daniel wih his younger sisters Danica and Danielle

Recent photo of John Daniel with his younger sisters Danica and Danielle Sillada (Photo by Danny C. Sillada)

Years later, when he fell in love and was broken for the first time—it was like a déjà vu—I could feel his pain again, as intense as his pain of losing a childhood kitten, after he and his girlfriend broke up. I wanted to embrace and kiss him. Yet, I realized, he was no longer a little boy. He needed something bigger than a hug or a kiss that would nurse and bandage his broken heart.

Although, I have this strong desire to intervene and give him advice on how to handle his love life; on second thought, I want him to face his own world and grow from it no matter how humiliating it is.

Unlike him, I lost my father when I was nine years old. It was my first taste of grief and sorrow. Since then, during the formative years up to my adulthood, I hankered for a father figure by my side. Ironically, it was during those unbearable moments that I discovered how to father myself in a peculiar way through my art. But that inorganic “sadness” inside would never leave me, and, perhaps, “will last forever,” to borrow the last words of Vincent Van Gogh before he died.

“Our childhood awakening then must be harsh and foreboding, as we began to discover inexplicable realities that were bigger to hold in our tiny hands. And how death could just brazenly deface our fleeting joy with such hasty sepulchral farewell,” to quote my open letter to my children. [3]

The following works—a 2003 pen and ink “Goldfish & Kitten” series on paper (14” X 11”) with a poem “The Burial” and a 2013 poetry film “The Paradox of Love”— were “born out of pendulous pulses between obsession and madness, motivated either by unrelenting passion to create or by fleeing from the awful reality of human existence.” [4]

Abandoned Doll (Still Life 2003), 11” X 10.5”, ballpoint on paper by Danny C. Sillada

Abandoned Doll (Still Life 2003), 11” X 10.5”, ballpoint on paper by Danny C. Sillada

The Burial

(Written for my son when he lost his kitten from a tragic accident)

Standing on his kitten’s burial ground, the boy’s tiny frail eyes began to fall, his mind drifting, searching for a reason that he could barely understand.

The distances of everything,
his desolate longing,
and that naïve feeling toward death submersed his buoyant soul.

The loss of a kitten was the loss of his identity, the shattering of innocence and meaning— a tragic phenomenological encounter
in the real world!

© Danny Castillones Sillada

The Paradox of Love

Poetry Film on YouTube

(Written for my son when he fell in love for the first time, and how that same love broke his heart)

1. You and me to stroll into an unknown place without sadness or sorrow, what do you think

You and me to stroll into an unknown place without sadness or sorrow, what do you think?

2. Isn’t it wonderful that we can co-exist together despite our differences

Isn’t it wonderful that we can co-exist together despite our differences?

3. How I wish we could live together in the same world

How I wish we could live together in the same world!

4. Come with me let's chase the bees and butterflies into the woods

Come with me: let’s chase the bees and the butterflies into the woods!

5. Be careful, you might lose your control and, eventually, devour me

Be careful, you might lose your control and, eventually, devour me!

6. Oh, please, don't be so petulant, it's just a kiss

Oh, please, don’t be so petulant, it’s just a kiss.

7. Oh, I'm really having fun, you're such a wonderful creature...

Oh, I’m really having fun, you’re such a wonderful creature…

8. Listen, I can hear our hearts beating together...

Listen, I can hear our hearts beating together…

Notes:
1. Hulsker: 1980, 480–483.
2. A quote from my 2012 Manila Bulletin article “To Live Amid the Inconvenience of the World: An Open Letter to My Children.”
3. op. cit.
4. A quote from my 2008 Manila Bulletin article “Despair, Suicide & Aesthetics.” 

2 Comments on [Arts Corner] Poetry and Drawings: The Tragic Story Behind the Artist’s Creation

  1. It’s good to see response from a loss, rather than nothing. How beautiful are the sketches & the words. Since I’ve just had a loss myself, I liked seeing a response from someone else about their own life’s journey.

  2. Else Cederborg // August 27, 2013 at 12:08 pm // Reply

    A death is always a loss. Good to see that you find a pet worthy of this beautiful memorial in words and drawings.

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