Week of December 11, 2000
Seminarian turns to painting
Renato Gandia has no grand aspirations; he just wants to relax
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Renato Gandia's call is to religious life. But his second calling is that of an artist.
When the third-year seminarian can't study, he pulls out his paintbrushes. When he's feeling down, he splashes some colour onto a canvas. When he can't sleep, he starts painting.
"(Painting) is one way of relaxation for me, it's an instrument of refocusing and collecting my thoughts," said the soft-spoken Gandia, whose short spiky gelled hair displays a youthfulness far younger than his 29 years. "It's an instrument for me to contain myself and refocus back to what I'm supposed to do.
"It's my way of nurturing my spirit . . . so I could energize myself."
His work was recently displayed at the Art Barn's Art from the Unknown exhibit, Nov. 29 to Dec. 2. The exhibit showcased works from more than 60 local low-income artists.
Three of his works, Seasons, Vision and Resurrection 2, display vibrant colours, a contrast to some of the more monotone greys and browns of neighbouring artwork.
Resurrection 2 is a streak of blues and purples gleaming from a figure representative of Jesus. There are four versions of Resurrection, each using different colours to portray the holiness of the risen Christ.
"I drew him this way because when he resurrected he wasn't a frail man," Gandia said of the buff-looking Jesus figure. "He is a strong man - when my friends saw it, they said your Jesus is Calvin Klein."
Gandia began painting two years ago while studying for his finals, at least trying to study. When the motivation wasn't there to open his books, he opened a palette of paint instead.
Having never taken an art class, he lets his natural artistic ability take over. He went to a nearby Wal-Mart and picked up brushes, paints and a canvas. He has moved from watercolours to acrylics and will one day graduate to oils.
Gandia, a native of the Philippines, is studying for the Kamloops Diocese. This is his second time around in the seminary. He entered the seminary straight out of high school when he was 17.
He completed his philosophy degree, but didn't feel he was ready for the priesthood. He taught at the seminary, where he was also able to experiment in the world of theatre arts. He even directed some of the seminarians in a musical about seminary life.
He went on to work as a journalist. Then religious life unexpectedly popped up again. While flipping through a Catholic Almanac, he noticed the depressing ratio of priests to parishioners in North America.
In a typical diocese in the Phillipines, Gandia said there can be up to 160 seminarians at one time. It's hard to find a diocese in North America with 160 priests, let alone seminarians. These statistics were telling him something. He applied to several dioceses, but settled on Kamloops because it was a totally different culture and environment than where he was coming from.
"There are 75 parishes and missions in Kamloops and 25 priests," Gandia said. "I thought, this doesn't make sense. How can that be? That's the general scenario in North America."
Gandia has the gift for the arts, whether it be painting, singing, acting or writing. "It's important for me to identify which gifts I can use for ministry," he said.
He doesn't see painting as a direct link to his future work in a parish, but it may have an indirect relationship to whatever ministry he is assigned to.
"The use of (painting) would be for my personal self. Art is very therapeutic for me. It helps me to relax. That will help me to do better in my ministry."
Gandia's works can be viewed at msnhomepages.talkcity.com/DownsizeDr/rlcg/index.html.