Some Things Cost More Than You Realize is a posthumous exhibition of Chester Calayag’s paintings, drawings, thoughts, and unrealized plans. Curated by his brother and mentor Froilan Calayag, this collection demonstrates that melancholy is an aesthetic emotion. Memories are significant whether as forms of recollection or contemplation, as they provide the narrative for melancholy – a feeling akin to love, sadness, longing, yearning, pleasure, nostalgia, reminiscing, and even dread. It plays a significant role in our encounter with art, especially those made by artists who we hold dear. In effect, the artworks here are traces of our meditation on the journey of life. The artist once wrote that he is inspired by anything: “a powerful love, wonderful family, events in the streets, smile from the sun, scene in a movie, lines in a poem, sadness, failures, trees soon to be cut, kiss from a mother cat to its kittens, a plastic bag floating in the hi-way, a raindrop falling from the sky on to the hair of a beautiful girl… a vegetarian friend, a toast… listening to (my) favorite songs.” The mundane and simple things that he was able to transform into skillful illustrations and masterful paintings are pieces of evidence of his virtuosity and how prolific he was in his art-making. Even in his forlorn life, he managed to articulate universal experiences of trying to belong, finding the light, living in the dark, the search for meaning, believing in magic, or finding beauty in the world.
“Melancholy is a mature emotion in which reflection calms a turbulent soul.” As we bask in the sentiments we have being in this intimate space, let us acknowledge that each person is energy – not created nor destroyed but transformed. All of the artist’s vigor, every vibration, every bit of heat and particle that he was, there was within him a constellation whose energy will go on forever; not a fragment of him is gone. (Con Cabrera)