Gerard Sison is truly a proverbial man of many hats.
A cosplayer and artist in his own right, Sison has portrayed a lot of memorable icons from Western pop culture. Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter, Han Solo from Star Wars, and Thranduil from The Hobbit are just some of the cosplays that he pulled off over the years. But most of all, he is known for dressing up as Superman in his different iterations–including the original movie version (Christopher Reeve) and the 2013 Man of Steel reboot (Henry Cavill).
However, he is also an icon outside of the costume. Painter, craftsman, artist, singer, funeral officiant, and Blue Eagle; these are some of the things Gerard Sison is known for. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Sir Gerard ever since I met him as Superman during Cosplay Mania 2011. It was only a few years down the line that I found out about him being an Ateneo alumnus. His religiosity, coupled with his talent in painting, reflects in his new coffee table book entitled Icons: Windows to the Soul. It was launched last June 13 at the Bonifacio High Street branch of Fully Booked, and yours truly (alongside the special someone) was honored to attend.
I got word of the launch after he himself sent me an invite to the event on Facebook, and confirmed my slot without any hesitation. Saturday came, and we arrived early at Taguig. We were fortunately the first ones to arrive at the venue, thirty minutes before the program—not a bad thing, if you ask me. Upon arriving, Sir Gerard was already in full Superman costume and was ready to sign copies of his book. I shook hands with him and chatted about life for a bit. He told me: “The quitting cosplay thing…it’s just a phase. You’ll eventually find the inspiration and go back.” After this, he suggested that we view all the paintings displayed while there were no other guests yet.
Other guests slowly filled the venue – including a few old friends from cosplay. Hank and Karen of Black Pearl Philippines (a local Pirates of the Caribbean cosplay group) went as Jesus Christ and Mother Mary, which led Sir Gerard to quip: “You know your event’s a hit when apparitions come to visit!” Refreshments and snacks were then served, which we indulged in. CJ and I enjoyed the quesadillas and chicken yakitori skewers, out of the many snacks there. We left a few hours after purchasing a book and having it signed.
I thanked Sir Gerard for the opportunity to cover the launch, while he thanked me likewise for my previous help. During the period that he was looking for a publisher, I suggested Vibal as the company had experience in producing art books under the Arte Filipino imprint (Isabelo Tampinco, Damian Domingo, Lee Aguinaldo, and more.) The initial talk with the Arte Filipino managing editor pushed through, but no deal was made as Sir Gerard wasn’t able to talk to the company president to pitch his work.
Now, here are my thoughts about the book. Icons was published by the Bahay ng Diyos Foundation, a religious non-profit organization that helps in the repair, maintenance, and rehabilitation of churches that have been damaged by time. In all honesty, I liked the fact that every purchase of the book will help repair a church in Bohol—a certain percentage of the book’s earnings will be used for this purpose. If you will remember, an earthquake rocked the province of Bohol in the Visayas region last 2013. This tremor destroyed a lot of old churches in the area – some dating from the Spanish era.
All 33 paintings in the book are spectacularly spiritual, to say the least. Sison includes the creative process for each painting, coupled with a short reflection and a backstory for each of the icons. He fuses Warhol’s pop art with the religious sensibility of Michelangelo, with a little sprinkling of the trademark Ignatian spirituality Ateneo is known for. CJ pointed out the expressive eyes of all the portraits, to which I agreed. Most evoke a feeling of mellowness and serenity; each painting seems to stare upon you at first glance, slowly transforming into a warm, comforting gaze. The effect is more powerful when you see the paintings face-to-face – pictures cannot capture the feeling adequately.
All in all, Gerard Sison’s book plays on various icons—from the religious (saints and other manifestations of Jesus and Mary), to the popular (his Superman cosplays and more). It shows Gerard as an icon himself; a man of many hats, a man who uses both the canvas and his own body as a medium, and a man who is spirituality and popular culture into one package. Once more, congratulations to him for the successful release of Icons!
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Icons: Windows to the Soul is available at the following Fully Booked branches: Bonifacio High Street, Rockwell Power Plant, Greenbelt 5, Regis Center Katipunan, Alabang Town Center, and Greenhills Promenade. It’s also available at selected St. Paul’s religious stores located in major shopping malls. A copy costs P2,000 and with every purchase, you help rebuild a church in Bohol destroyed by the 2013 earthquake—via the Bahay ng Diyos Foundation, the book’s publisher.
CLICK ON THIS LINK to place your book orders. For inquiries, book reservations, and additional details—you may send them an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call their offices at 531-11-82 / 477-63-18.
The full album for this event can be found at this link. Do like the book’s official Facebook page here, and stop by Super Gerard’s page on Facebook for all things related to his cosplay endeavors. (Edited 27 June 2015, 11:30 pm.)
That ends this entry, and see you on the next post. As a parting gift, here are some shots of yours truly trying out the Dean Ambrose sweatshirt I bought last month.