Neophyte author Aelred Nilo photographically tells Benedictine story at San Beda College
How can the history and traditions of an institution such as the Benedictines in the Philippines be told appealingly and interestingly in today’s visual information age audiences?
Aelred Nilo, OSB ingeniously answers this question in his book “Benedictine Story in the Philippine Islands,” his first venture as a Benedictine monk of Manila in the world of art publication and as an author. Alongside with the launching of the book is also the inauguration of the art exhibit by an Italian painter Francesco Giannini. Father Nilo and Giannini will be at San Beda Manila to sign copies of the book and inaugurate the art exhibit on Friday, March 23, 2012.
The book launch and the art exhibit is the first of its kind that ever happened in San Beda Manila in its century presence in the Philippines. The event introduces to the public a first timer author-monk side by side with an Italian artist whose work is documented in the book. The book is a visual treat especially for the art lovers and artists alike because it chronicles in the span of more than two years the execution and progress on the narrative paintings by Francesco Giannini, commissioned by the Benedictine monks of San Beda College for the wall of the Abbey church.
“I worked closely with Francesco to oversee the paintings we commissioned him to do,” Fr. Aelred says. “During this period I received photos of updates from the artist which we discussed over e-mails, SKYPE and phone calls. So I took this opportunity to come up with a unique coffee table book that not only document the birth of a masterpiece but also account the story behind the art.”
The preparation, sketches and development of the paintings are chronicled photographically in the book. It is an unusual book because it is the first of its kind since it reveals the painter’s secret, which could be traced back to the height of the European Middle Ages (11th century). “I would like to tell you something of the technical methods and procedures I have followed, and reveal a few secrets to you, those which artists do not usually disclose to anyone,” Giannini said.
Francesco Giannini lives and works in Peschiera del Garda, near Verona, Italy. During the course of the years his work has been displayed in many different collective and personal exhibitions, he has won many awards for his paintings, which are sought by art collectors in Italy and in various other European countries.
Gianni Lollis, President of Societa Belle Arti Verona (SBAV) wrote, “Despite our modern-day tendency towards secularization, Giannini’s perception of sacredness reveals his passion and his expression of beauty as the message of a dialogue between the author, God and the public. I do not think I would be mistaken in affirming that certain details of the great work recently accomplished for the Benedictine monastery in Manila refer back to past works when the predilection for a figurative subject contributed to the transmission of values, not only as a religious or aesthetic gesture, but also as an anguished prayer and an impassioned catharsis.”
Further Lollis added, “During the course of his work, Francesco has at times sensed the limits of traditional pictorial representation which could be too “didactic”, but through his choice of methodology and symbols he has achieved a masterpiece rich in narrative value, which is not only highly aesthetic but, above all, mystic.”
Fr. Aelred Nilo, OSB is a monk of Our Lady of Montserrat, Manila. He took his License in Theology with specialization on Monastic Studies at the Pontificio Ateneo San Anselmo, Rome, Italy. He met Francesco during the summer of 2006 in Assisi, Italy. They worked together for the realization of the narrative painting called “The Benedictine Story in the Philippine Islands”. At present Fr. Aelred is the Chaplain of the Basic Education Department of San Beda College in Taytay, Rizal.
The book launch and art exhibit will be on March 23, 2012, Friday, 6:00 pm, at the Pamanang Bedista Heritage Center and Sabater Court, San Beda College, Mendiola, Manila. For more information of the event, call 735-5995 or 0917-807-2222.
FR AELRED NILO, OSB
Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat, Manila