Salcedo Stories

Bold, Bright, and Brave: The Canvasses of Norberto Carating

Bold, Bright, and Brave: The Canvasses of Norberto Carating

  • 29 May 2021

Norberto “Lito” Carating dreams in technicolor and grid-like structures that he brings to life in a myriad of texture, bold paint strokes, and sheer emotion on his expansive canvases.

The artist took the long and winding road in pursuit of his passions, one that first led him to an over-a-decade long career as a professional opera singer (a sought after baritone at that!) in the United States and Canada, right after his graduation from the UP School of Fine Arts in 1971. Eventually, at the age of 37, he came to the realization that a performer’s career was short-lived, while an artist could mature and grow over time. He picked up his brush again and swiftly began to work. Carating has not stopped painting ever since, progressing from the surreal forms of his Lamanlupa and Anilao Series to rigid abstractions and expressionist works.

To date, Carating has won multiple awards like the Thirteen Artist Award in 1990 and has won several competitions hosted by the Art Association of the Philippines. He has also participated in countless successful exhibitions both locally and internationally— even joining the line-up of the prestigious Venice Biennale in 2015.

As a testament to how much collectors value his work, they rarely put his paintings up for auction. Carating’s collectors hold his work in such high regard that they are often given pride of place in their own personal collections, both here and abroad.

In anticipation of ‘Vivace’, the artist’s solo, thirteen-piece exhibition with Salcedo Private View, three art collectors have shared their stories and interactions with Norberto Carating. Keep reading to find out more!

Tessie Fajardo, art collector and long-time friend of the artist

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A portrait of Tessie Fajardo at her home, Carating’s work seen in the background.

“Dean Jose Joya introduced me to Lito Carating,” Fajardo begins. The National Artist was a close personal friend who would invite her to different social events that revolved around the art scene. “But when Dean Joya passed away, I didn’t get to see Lito anymore,” she shares.

The two friends, Carating and Fajardo, would not meet again until a serendipitous airport encounter in the year 2000. “I went to see a Filipino art exhibition in Spain. Nagulat ako, kasi nakita ko sa airport si Lito, who was there together with a group that included Gus Albor and Lao LianBen. Sabi ko, ‘Huy, andito ka pala!’ We were in Spain for about two weeks, so that’s really how we became very close, up to now. That’s how I got to know more about his art at that time, like yung “Laman Lupa” and “Anilao” series, as well as the structured abstract works,” Fajardo smiles in her recollection of their reunion.

Norberto Carating’s work is prominently featured in Fajardo’s home.

Though his works of art are striking and a visual treat for the senses, the artist himself is quite understated and reserved, only revealing his true colors to his closest friends. Fajardo adds, “Mahiyain siya, ayaw niya magsalita sa mga big groups…But he is very disciplined. Every morning, he paints, everyday. Usually he wants to go out after he paints. Tsaka mabait na tao. Grabe yung love niya for his parents and his family. Lito is a very nice, very authentic person. Wala akong nakitang plastic sa kanya.”

More of Carating’s work placed above the portraits and photographs of her family.

Shahid Zahid, development economist and long-time friend of the artist

“You’re my lucky charm!” Norberto Carating once told Shahid Zahid. This was in the early years of their now over 2 decades long friendship, right after Zahid’s purchase of an untitled painting, which he personally refers to as ‘Moonlight’, led to a string of sales for the artist.

Zahid shares an image of his first Carating, the one he now refers to as ‘Moonlight.’

After their initial meeting, Zahid was invited to the artist’s studio in San Francisco, Del Monte. “I spent the whole day there. I must have gone at 10 in the morning and left at 5 in the afternoon. He showed me all the work he kept in his studio! He had work from his student days, the ‘Laman Lupa’ series, and other experimentations,” he shares. “What impressed me the most about Lito is that he was honing a style that was traditional and stripping it down to its bare forms… His art is not something he did because he decided it was simple. Rather, he arrived at it after great practice and decades of honing his skill.”

Zahid’s Manila home is filled with works of art by his dear friend, Lito Carating.

A curious fact that Zahid shared is that Carating never talks about his art, ever. This speaks volumes about the artist’s confidence in his work. For Carating, his work ends once he’s able to put everything— each feeling, emotion, and expression, onto his canvas. After his process, the artist allows the work to speak for itself and leaves its interpretation up to the viewer. “At most he’ll say ‘thank you, I’m glad it makes you happy’,” Zahid says. Whenever the artist is commissioned to create a painting for one of his patrons, the only customization the patron can specify is the canvas’ size— all other artistic choices are left to Carating. And yet, collectors are constantly thrilled to bring home whatever this modern artist creates in his studio.

Over the years, Zahid shares that he has collected numerous paintings by Norberto Carating. For his 50th birthday, the artist even presented him with another piece to add to his growing collection.

Manny V. Pangilinan, business leader and art collector

Manny V. Pangilinan doesn’t just collect art; he also enjoys, and has a knack for, personally hanging his collection. Such was the case with a large Lito Carating canvas (one of at least a dozen in the tycoon’s collection) that takes centerstage in the sitting room of Pangilinan’s PLDT office.

An inside look at the Carating painting that hangs in MVP’s office

It is the focal point in a symmetric vignette that welcomes the business tycoon’s visitors. A trusted source tells us that Pangilinan was drawn to Carating’s vibrant color palette and bold strokes, filling the executive office’s walls with works by the artist. Pangilinan only displays paintings he enjoys— meaningful art for him requires a visceral experience.

Just look at the details of this painting!

That being said, one of Norberto Carating’s works was, until recently, the focal point of Smart Tower’s main lobby for a number of years— given pride of place in the headquarters one of the country’s most well-known companies.

Salcedo Private View is proud to present ‘Vivace,’ a solo-exhibition with thirteen works of art by Norberto Carating. The exhibition runs from Saturday, 29 May to 19 June 2021 at the Salcedo Auctions showroom in NEX Tower. Click here to view the online catalogue.