BluPrint: “The Uncommon World of Glenn Bautista”
A special feature of:
The Architecture & Design Sourcebook
Volume 4, Number 6, Year 2000
Written by Gigi Gonzalez • Photographed by Cesar Caina and Glenn Bautista
Who can fathom the depth and breadth of an artist’s soul? Can one explore the inner workings of artistry and dissect the images conjured in the artist’s mind and laid bare as physical and visual realities?
To capture the quintessential Glenn Bautista is a monumental task, because the man, unobtrusive and quiet as he appears to be, harbors an artistic genius that does not reveal itself with ease. His prodigious body of work attests to his wide-ranging explorations in diverse media, his sheer mastery of technique and the passion and spontaneity that rule his world.
The creativity in Bautista does not stop with his art — rather, it translates and spills over into his very existence. He embraces life with such passion that his work, his personal interests, and all that he believes in melds into uncontrived, spontaneous, living art.
He is a dreamer who, in his life’s journey, uncharacteristically plunges headlong into reality but with a strong sense for experimentation and exploration that leads him to greater artistic achievements. Most art critics talk of his distinctive imagery and haunting, sometimes disturbing, and most often thought-provoking art as “surreal.”
Bautista refuses to be categorized as “surrealist.” Rather, he lets his art lead to visions to simply be — to quite an art critic, “aesthetically and intellectually — making it known that the human mind, particularly his, is capable of infinite creativity, even to the point of rendering art theories inutile.”
Coming from a large family of modest means (his father is a Methodist minister), the young Bautista used his innate artistic talent to work his way through college. He began his freshman year the the University of Santo Tomas College of Fine Arts, moving on to complete an Associate of Advertising Diploma at the University of the Philippines in 1969. Reveling in early independence, he traveled to the US on an art scholarship. At the Sta. Barbara Arts Institute, California (formerly Brooks Art Institute), Bautista studies drawing, painting, glass blowing and photography, and graduate with honors with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. The adventurous artist next found himself a new home in Germany, where he studied Lithography at the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Dusseldorf. One of Bautista’s most notable achievements is his inclusion in the permanent art exhibit at Galerie 204, Rechelstrasse, Dusseldorf in 1985. Here, the artist’s works hang alongside the art of such illustrious names such as Josef Beuys and Lionel Finenger, and the masters Chagall, Dali, and Miro.
Everywhere his travels took him, Bautista went away with memories etched in stone, paper, and film. And while he may have traveled a long way from his roots, the artist came full circle and returned home, to his “sense of belonging.”
Today, Bautista’s commitments originate closer to his native land and to all that he has come back to. He is passionate about his family and is devoted to providing the best quality of life for his wife, Lorna, and their 12-year-old son, David. He is just as passionate about sharing his vision for the Filipino family. As he moved towards concretizing his big dreams, Bautista started his own home.
This artist, who once wanted to be an architect, says that his abode is the scale model for dynamic, functional art for the future. It serves as a blueprint for a home which he believes should be one’s total domain, a living space where people can nurture their spirit, their life’s work, and their individuality.
Beyond the issue of home, but taking this same dream of a better life for every Filipino, is Bautista’s vision of creating an ideal Filipino community that promotes and sustains the individual. His concept may sound utopian, but he speaks of his master plan with the confidence of one who has given the subject much thought and deliberation. Looking at the dwelling he has built, he dreams of taking his microcosm of space into a bigger reality and, someday, disseminating the results of his experimentation for other people to use when building their own homes, which may eventually contribute to the development of a total community.
The Bautista home was not conceived with a grand design. It started as two simple bungalow units in a three-parcel plot of land in Camella Homes, Imus, Cavite, with a garden that boasted of a few trees, including a beautiful shady mango tree. In the eight years that the family has lived here, the mango tree has grown to venerable proportions, and the house has similarly expanded in as many different ways to accommodate the many new functions dictated by a growing family’s needs.
For the artist, his home is a tribute to his family, and to all that they aspire for. Thus, theirs is a home dedicated to creating a space for every family member. Through the years, where there is need — be it an additional space or structural requirement — work was done to address it. Thus, the residence grew – and is still growing to accommodate solutions.
For Bautista, it was adding a gallery/workshop, with enough room for fellow artists to stay over for complete immersion and interaction, as well as a state-of-the-art recording studio, where his friends can jam and make music to their hearts’ content (his love affair with music began in his early college years as part of singing groups like Gentle Rain, and Ma’s Concern, among other musical affiliations). For Lorna, who has evolved into a remarkable chef with a blossoming catering business, it meant a functional kitchen seamlessly spilling over into a wide entertaining area. For son David, it was play spaces for him and his friends, resulting in a small pool within Mom’s domain, private niches for a growing teenage boy, and having a huge part of the roof as romping ground.
The artistry of Bautista came easily as he was simply being true to the constraints of space, building materials and logistics. Here is organic architecture at its most basic definition. Shapes are dictated by what nature placed before the house was even laid out. With only a mason and a welder to help him, he has arrived at the reality that is his family’s home.
The result of all this work “in progress” is a unique abode that astounds first-time guests with its explosion of artistic expression. To visit the home of artist Glenn Bautista is to step inside his art and his reality. One becomes a living, moving element in a huge canvass, a part of the reason and substance of this artist’s media. It is to steep one’s self in what is all at once surreal and practical, and come to an awareness that there are still newer solutions, limitless possibilities, and uncommon alternatives to the world as we knew it.