Ronilo Abayan

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Ronilo Abayan



The Filipino maestro is not from a family of renowned painters, and he never attended an elite school of Visual Arts. Instead he had humble beginnings. As a seven-year-old he used to draw on walls of his modest home using a piece of charcoal fished out from his mother’s kitchen.

“My mother took no offense of my behavior, about ruining her walls with my charcoal sketches which initially had no precise shape or meaning, but instead she admired them.”


As a youngster he kept on drawing his dream images on whatever material he can get hold of - paper, walls, pieces of wood, etc.

As he entered adulthood, he found a job as a security guard, then as a construction site helper.

He was not ecstatic about these jobs and could not find energy to please his bosses as his mind was completely elsewhere. Soon enough he was fired from his security guard job when his supervisor caught him painting pictures while on duty.


Then a friend introduced him to a job where he was supposed to draw hoardings for movies, getting a step closer to realising his dream. He mastered his painting skills on the job. Later as a hobby he started doing on-the-spot caricatures and portraits at public places. Later he found a permanent place to do his painting in a department store.

About 10 years ago, Nkemakolam found him doing just that. Abayan and a friend were doing spot caricatures for shoppers at the store. “The paintings he had done were so real that they looked as if they were about to jump off the canvas, I was so impressed.” A thought flashed in Nkemakolam’s mind that this guy deserves to be introduced to an elite audience of Art enthusiasts and let them privy to his amazing talent.

“A lot of people can draw but the characteristics, resemblance of the actual person, in other words the soul of the character in the portrait - is hard to capture,” Abayan says.


“He wants to encourage the next generation of artists that Art is a profitable profession, and he wants to advise the youngsters to keep pursuing their dreams till they reach the pinnacle,” Nkemakolam interpreted Maestro Abayan’s thoughts.

His two daughters and the son too have taken after the father and are talented painters. Maestro presented two portraits, one of President Sirisena and the first lady during his encounter with the President during the current tour.

“It is priceless for an artist to be recognized by the people and be admired. We are so happy that President Sirisena invited the Maestro to his beautiful country to spend a few days.” Nkemakolam said putting Maestro Abayan’s feelings into words.

* This statement has been provided directly by the artist in association to their 14th International ARC Salon entries. This content has not been edited for typos or grammatical errors and has not been vetted for accuracy.