Intricate images, simple scenes

PAENG Kalaw is an artist and educator from Malabon City.

Unpretentious but skillful is Raphael Kalaw, an artist and educator who hails from Malabon.

Paeng, as he is fondly called, obtained his Fine Arts degree and Master’s in Cultural Heritage Studies from the University of Santo Tomas where his talent and love for things Filipino were honed. He currently teaches at UST’s College of Fine Arts and Design.

Aside from being a visual artist, he is also a photographer whose favorite subjects include ordinary stuff — art materials, his work desk and street scenes.

‘Layers of Life’ (2016).

His signature medium is ink on paper, which traces back its roots to ancient times. A number of artists in the past had utilized this method, most notably Leonardo da Vinci. Works are normally black-and-white images of everyday scenes from: vendors to fisher folks, to caravans and rural life.

Untitled (2020)

What makes Kalaw’s works interesting is his masterful depictions of his subjects, vivid and detailed and executed with a plethora of lines and curves.

These are myriad products of his imagination placed on paper, plain coupon bonds or pages of notebooks and journals. His works are done with accuracy and finesse that Kalaw had developed as his own style, creating images that both look abstract and surreal, mesmerizing the viewer’s eyes and fancies. He also delves into painting, tackling themes similar to his drawings.

‘With a Sense of Purpose’ (2019)

Kalaw has not yet participated in any major exhibition or mounted a solo exhibition, but these things may eventually happen as more people become aware of his artistry and dedication to his craft. His works, borrowing what artist Joan Miro said, “are conceived with fire in the soul but executed with clinical coolness.”

‘Harvest’ (2019)

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