BY MARIVIR MONTEBON
Mention Madonna, and almost always the images of the lady Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, or the pop entertainer who is also referred to as the mother of reinvention (like a virgin, material girl, and all that stuff) strike the mind.
But comes now another Madonna, a Filipino, Swiss, and American rolled into one whose artistry have become pervasive in three continents with a stroke of a paint brush or a pencil.
“Art is a matter of relevance,” says Maria Madonna Angeles-Davidoff, the citizen of the world. She was born in the Philippines and has lived in Switzerland, Singapore, and New York City as a visual artist. For more than 30 years, Madonna has evolved into a sought-after illustrator, book cover designer, and graphic artist.
As she takes time to put down her paint brush, she performs her mother role to only daughter Bianca Marmy and wife to Bart Davidoff. Bianca just finished her International Studies at the Ecole Catholique in Paris and also at the The College in New Jersey. These days, the Davidoff home is in New Jersey. But Madonna takes special sanctuary in Bali, Indonesia for her artistic streaks.
In this time of global recession, the artist’s ability to survive is tested. “Life in the US has become more and more challenging. You just have to continue being relevant these days, while being yourself. Any artist would feel the pangs of economic times. I continue to get book projects, and I believe it is track record, and being lucky too,” she quips.
Madonna is up for three art exhibits this year in New York and a book project before the year closes. On April 21, she will hold an art exhibit at the Yippie Museum on Bleecker Street, Lower Manhattan.
Way back in the late 1980s, Madonna and her parents decided to live in the US. She designed her life to be the artist that is she, working as freelance that earned her own keep and enhanced her own artistic distinction. She shares a studio with other artists in Manhattan, where she works undisturbed.
The artistry of Madonna is distinctive in her colorful and comical rendering of nature, people, and still life. Almost always, this artist naturally reflects her happy soul and can be seen in the icon Marilyn, the young meditative girl at the Central Park, or Barack, the jubilant African boy.
“My motivation in creating works of art stems from my enjoyment in expressing myself and exposure to different cultures continues to inspire me in so many ways. I have acquired a more global perspective on the symbols and images in art,” Madonna writes in her portfolio.
The youngest in the brood of 4, she studied graphic arts at the University of the Philippines and batik painting in Bali.
Madonna regards herself as a multicultural artist and has expressed that in her art form. Her mix media “Scroll” series, for example is a reflection of her nomadic nature as an artist constantly on the move.
She says, “Having lived in three continents, I have this sense of displacement. I never really belong anywhere, and so I try to create my own cultural space wherever I find myself. It is a way for me as an artist to make sense of things around me. The scrolls make perfect sense since these banner-like images are “transportable” just like myself. The scrolls can easily be rolled up and carried around and like myself, could be reinvented, able to adapt and survive.”
She didn’t just survive, she shone in the three continents. Clients like Crane Publishing, Markus Wiener Publishers, Africa World Press, Alemars Publishing House, Bridge International Publishing, Van Nostrand, Republic National Bank, NYNEX, and Asia Lifestyle Magazine have applauded her works of art in book cover and illustrations and thus solidified her name as an artist.
In the summer of 2010, among the pleasant surprises she got was being featured by the New York Times while she was painting at the Turtle Pond at Central Park. Titled Summer Rituals, Painting in the Park, it was in that instance the NY Times photographer and writer caught her artistry into their own.
The gleeful rendering of Madonna’s art expresses the diversity and universality of her themes. “I’ve also come to realize that symbols and icons all over the world speak of the universal themes of fear, joy, hope, pain, and celebration. I believe that we are one collective eye sharing a single planet.”