Daniel Dela Cruz's "Unbridled" Celebrates Grace and Strength

Daniel Dela Cruz’s latest exhibition captures the unbridled power of women today in a series of stunning, gravity-defying metal sculptures. 

“Whenever I do exhibits, I don’t like repeating myself,” shared Daniel Dela Cruz during a press dinner and early showcase of some pieces from his upcoming exhibition, Unbridled, at Galleria Nicolas. The sculptor takes pride in coming up with new concepts to explore through his recognizable metallic works. However, in his latest series of works, Dela Cruz decided to revisit the idea of womanhood: a concept that he explored in the past, namely during his first solo exhibition Kandungan in 2007. 

Though true to his creative ethos, the artist still offers something different through the works in Unbridled, exploring an old concept with a fresh perspective and the techniques he honed in the years following his debut. He described it as a “full-circle” moment in his career, stating that it was nice to return to his roots, despite his initial doubts about the endeavor. 

Unbridled continues from where Kandungan left off—exploring the female experience through the lens of motherhood—situating itself in a new context and capturing the position of women in the world today, venturing beyond their societal roles as nurturers.

READ ALSO: Beyond The Scars: Daniel Dela Cruz’s Exhibition Transcends Personal Pains

Unfettered and Strong

“When it comes to women and men now, it’s really about who does the job better,” Dela Cruz shared during an interview. Though it can be argued that the fight for women’s rights is far from over, there’s no denying the reality present in his newest exhibition: many women today are empowered, free to be whoever they want to be.  

The modern woman can now explore more horizons, untethered from the patriarchal restraints that might’ve once stopped their ancestors from pursuing other paths besides motherhood. To the artist, women aren’t one or the other, but everything at once: nurturing and compassionate, strong and steel-willed. These traits are not mutually exclusive, but simply strengths that enhance one another. 

“To be able to blend that nurturing side with courage, grit, and determination I think is something not even men can aspire to [do],” explained Dela Cruz. 

In an official press statement, the sculptor added: “Understanding her [a woman] requires navigating the delicate balance between the tranquil beauty and the powerful storms within, appreciating the resilience that enables her ascent to dizzying peaks, guided by the poetic intricacies of her soul.”

Material Master 

Dela Cruz has been sculpting since he was a child, though he eventually entered a career in product design. Later in life, he decided to dedicate himself full-time to his first love, retaining and improving the things he learned in his previous line of work. This included handling all manner of materials, from ceramics to paper, and of course metal. 

Daniel Dela Cruz

Since then, he’s garnered a large following, with installations in prominent museums, galleries, and public spaces. He also brought pride to the country by winning the gold medal for the “Festival of Nativities” in Rome, Italy in December 2008. His Nativity sculptures won the highest honor in a field of 131 entries from 71 countries.

Working with materials like copper, nickel, and iron comes with its challenges, but for the sculptor, this is all part of the fun. He spent years honing techniques that he can proudly say are unique to his works.

The sculptures in Unbridled are smaller than the more gargantuan projects in his oeuvre (including the country’s largest crucifix at a towering seven meters high). Yet the skill that they require is no less impressive: Dela Cruz argues that, contrary to what most people assume, smaller works can be just as challenging as bigger ones. This is especially true for his metal pieces, which possess a level of detail (namely in the subjects’ flowing hair and garments) seldom seen in other works within the medium. 

Crafting a Modern Woman

Dela Cruz used an electroplating technique found in jewelry-making to create the bottom half of each woman’s figure, resulting in alluring textures and colors. In contrast, he rendered the upper half of these women’s bodies in a shiny, silvery nickel, reflecting the transition into the light or an enlightened age. 

The artist showcases both traditional and modern sensibilities in the collection, with its women possessing the voluptuous figures that defined beauty in the Renaissance, each one comfortable in her own skin. They’re not passive subjects, but active participants in their own story: they defy gravity, their feet balanced on triangular points, their bodies stretched mid-leap in a euphoric dance.

Dela Cruz’s subjects are faceless, the artist’s way of encouraging viewers to fill in the blanks with their own imagination and experiences. Each woman can be a mother, sister, friend, or partner. Whoever they are, they’re more than capable of propelling themselves to soaring heights—or they likely already have. 

UNBRIDLED by Daniel dela Cruz will run from April 25 – May 4, 2024, with the Artist Reception on April 25, Thursday at 5 PM. Galleria Nicolas Greenbelt is located at 3F, Greenbelt 5, Legazpi Street, Makati City. For inquiries, contact Galleria Nicolas at +63 936 225 1226 or email [email protected].

Photos courtesy of Galleria Nicolas.
Feature photo by Pilar Gonzalez; Banner photo courtesy of Galleria Nicolas.

Shop for LIFESTYLE ASIA’S magazines through these platforms.
Download LIFESTYLE ASIA’s digital magazines from:
Subscribe via [email protected]