Hermes Alegre paints the Filipina

Multi-awarded artist Hermes Alegre is renowned for his women – on canvass that is. His paintings are mostly beautiful dusky women depicted in a fantasy of foliage. Alegre’s women are prized and avidly awaited by art collectors, making him one of today’s best-selling artists.

Pinay beauty

Art critics have described his works as “portrait-like renditions of women with an uncanny sense of movement.” Looking at his paintings, one gets the impression that the figures are actually alive. Other words used to describe his women were “seductive”, “alluring”, “shrouded with a quiet sense of mystery” and “erotic.”

While Alegre is a versatile artist who is also known for his abstracts, women are still his favorite subjects. “I’m inspired by the beauty and behavior of the Pinay with their dusky features, pouty lips and their mystical smile,” he explains. In another interview, he further expounds on his subject of preference. “I can’t escape it. There are so many mothers and wives, more women to render than men.  There’s something about the beauty of women that you’ll never see in men. And men are not even nice to look at in the first place!”

His dream project, fittingly, is to create “a mural painting for every embassy depicting Filipina women.”

Career milestones

Alegre has had at least 10 major solo exhibits to his credit, including one major show in Singapore and group shows in New York, Belgium and Germany. A graduate of Fine Arts from the Philippine Women’s University, he was recognized as a “Provincial Treasure Awardee of Daet, Camarines Norte. He has also illustrated three children’s books.

Despite all the accolades his works has received, what Alegre considers as his greatest milestone so far is, surprisingly, part of his book illustration work.  “I was able to be a part of a book project for children with National Artist Francisco Arcellana which won the “National Book Award” for children. It’s the best legacy I could share to my children and to our kababayans,” he says humbly.

Alegre has indeed gone a long way from his early days when, leaving Bicol to pursue his studies at PWU, he experienced selling his works dirt-cheap to whoever cared to buy them. He prefers to be philosophical about those early times. “It was really hard work because I had to peddle my paintings door to door. But I consider myself lucky because I was able to experience those hard times. It’s a part of the learning process not only for a visual artist but also for everyone. It helped me to enhance my art and my craft.”

Returning home

Even though he has made a name for himself in Manila, and even in different parts of the world, Alegre decided to return to his native Daet to raise his family.  He has three kids: Adanjose 9, Awit, 5, and Malvar, 3. His wife Helena is an artist herself, creating beautiful hand-crafted jewelry as a hobby. Hermes shares that it is daughter Awit who may have inherited his talent. “She loves to paint and she’s always hanging out in my studio,” he says proudly.

He sees life in the province as ideal for his family. “I want my children to experience

a simple way of life. I want them to learn how to value and appreciate the place where their parents came from.  It’s also a nice and healthy place to live in because of the beaches, mountains and the rivers.  These are all serene and very relaxing.”

Alegre’s art likewise finds a positive influence in Daet.  He visits Manila twice a month but confesses that he still feels comfortable and more relaxed working in his Daet studio with his family. “I feel great and more focused because of the environment,” he says. There are also plenty of inspirations in his native province.  “I often go to the market and fishing villages to be able to capture the smile and calm gestures of Daetenos. Going around also helps me come up with good compositions for my painting,” he explains.

A proud Bicolano to the core, Hermes Alegre has this to say to aspiring artists in the region: “Just stay focused and consistent with your art. And be proud you are Oragon.”

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Multi-awarded artist Hermes Alegre is renowned for his women – on canvass that is. His paintings are mostly beautiful dusky women depicted in a fantasy of foliage. Alegre’s women are prized and avidly awaited by art collectors, making him one of today’s best-selling artists.

Pinay beauty

Art critics have described his works as “portrait-like renditions of women with an uncanny sense of movement.” Looking at his paintings, one gets the impression that the

figures are actually alive. Other words used to describe his women were “seductive”, “alluring”, “shrouded with a quiet sense of mystery” and “erotic.”

While Alegre is a versatile artist who is also known for his abstracts, women are still his favorite subjects. “I’m inspired by the beauty and behavior of the Pinay with their dusky features, pouty lips and their mystical smile,” he explains. In another interview, he further expounds on his subject of preference. “I can’t escape it. There are so many mothers and wives, more women to render than men.  There’s something about the beauty of women that you’ll never see in men. And men are not even nice to look at in the first place!”

His dream project, fittingly, is to create “a mural painting for every embassy depicting Filipina women.”

Career milestones

Alegre has had at least 10 major solo exhibits to his credit, including one major show in Singapore and group shows in New York, Belgium and Germany. A graduate of Fine Arts from the Philippine Women’s University, he was recognized as a “Provincial Treasure Awardee of Daet, Camarines Norte. He has also illustrated three children’s books.

Despite all the accolades his works has received, what Alegre considers as his greatest milestone so far is, surprisingly, part of his book illustration work.  “I was able to be a part of a book project for children with National Artist Francisco Arcellana which won the “National Book Award” for children. It’s the best legacy I could share to my children and to our kababayans,” he says humbly.

Alegre has indeed gone a long way from his early days when, leaving Bicol to pursue his studies at PWU, he experienced selling his works dirt-cheap to whoever cared to buy them. He prefers to be philosophical about those early times. “It was really hard work because I had to peddle my paintings door to door. But I consider myself lucky because I was able to experience those hard times. It’s a part of the learning process not only for a visual artist but also for everyone. It helped me to enhance my art and my craft.”

Returning home

Even though he has made a name for himself in Manila, and even in different parts of the world, Alegre decided to return to his native Daet to raise his family.  He has three kids: Adanjose 9, Awit, 5, and Malvar, 3. His wife Helena is an artist herself, creating beautiful hand-crafted jewelry as a hobby. Hermes shares that it is daughter Awit who may have inherited his talent. “She loves to paint and she’s always hanging out in my studio,” he says proudly.

He sees life in the province as ideal for his family. “I want my children to experience

a simple way of life. I want them to learn how to value and appreciate the place where their parents came from.  It’s also a nice and healthy place to live in because of the beaches, mountains and the rivers.  These are all serene and very relaxing.”

Alegre’s art likewise finds a positive influence in Daet.  He visits Manila twice a month but confesses that he still feels comfortable and more relaxed working in his Daet studio with his family. “I feel great and more focused because of the environment,” he says. There are also plenty of inspirations in his native province.  “I often go to the market and fishing villages to be able to capture the smile and calm gestures of Daetenos. Going around also helps me come up with good compositions for my painting,” he explains.

A proud Bicolano to the core, Hermes Alegre has this to say to aspiring artists in the region: “Just stay focused and consistent with your art. And be proud you are Oragon.”

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