By Phillip Somozo
Meet the Filipino surrealist painter who is specially honored by the man who resurrected the greatest classic English epic poem Paradise Lost in this modern age.
The name of New York-based Bienvenido Bones Banez Jr., originally of Davao, was written on an artist’s palette, painted in flaming colors, at the very top of the border of a plate titled “Pandemonium” in the book considered by a Miltonia collector as one of the greatest printed and hand-embellished books ever produced. Pandemonium is a tribute to historical architecture, sculpture, and painting,
The huge book (size 13 x 19 inches) is the elephant folio of Terrance Lindall, the most passionate, prolific, and widely-read illustrator of John Milton’s eternal masterpiece. It contains fourteen full-page, full-color, 1000 dpi artwork prints, with 23.75-carat gold- leaf edging.
Miltonia collector Robert J. Wickenheiser, Ph.D., built up over a thirty-five year period his Miltoniana of more than 6,000 volumes, including more than sixty Paradise Lost first editions. Its special focus on illustrated editions makes it one of the great Milton collections in the world. It was exhibited during the time Lindall turned over a copy (one of only two) of his elephant folio to the Yuko Nii Foundation at the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center in New York City.
Dr. Wickenheiser is a retired president of St. Bounaventure University in New York. Earlier he also had served as president for sixteen years of St. Mary’s University, Maryland. During a lecture he describes Lindall “Without a doubt, Terrance Lindall is the foremost illustrator of Paradise Lost in our age, comparable to other great illustrators through the ages, and someone who has achieved a place of high stature for all time.”
He purchased Lindall’s remaining Paradise Lost elephant folio and all three of Banez paintings also exhibited in the same venue.
Bienvenido Bones Banez, Jr., migrated to America in 2002 and became acquainted with Lindall when the latter invited him to display a work in the Brave Destiny, the world’s largest-ever exhibition of Surrealism held also in Brooklyn’s WAH Center in 2003.
Lindall was then emerging, unofficially, as Andre Breton’s replacement as spokesman of the surrealist movement. After Brave Destiny Lindall capped his passion for organizing Surrealism’s largest-ever convergences when he gave John Milton the renaissance poet’s biggest-ever posthumous birthday bash in 2007 (his 400th), dubbed as the Grand Paradise Lost Costume Ball. Both affairs averaged an attendance of close to five hundred surrealists from the world over.
Lindall, in interview, speaks of Pandemonium and Banez: “This plate is a tribute to architecture, construction, sculpture, painting, etc. Note that the Seraphim ????????? in the upper corners have paintbrushes in one hand and flames in the other. They are painting with fire. God wrote the Ten Commandments with His finger in fire. Bienvenido’s style I call “Fiero Electric” because he recognizes the divine principle of creation is fire and color, and “Fiero Electric” because of Bien’s striking juxtaposition of primary colors! (He) discovered my philosophy of surrealism and my interest in Paradise Lost and recognized an absolute parallel in our thinking…I have especially honored Bienvenido in this plate by writing his name on the artist’s palette at the very top, the palette of flaming colors.”
Lindall’s passion for Paradise Lost began in 1980 when he did its illustrations for Heavy Metal Magazine. Three years later, in 1983, he synopsized the book artistically. Since then he made limited editions by illustrating the book in various sizes and forms: the quarto editions (5 ¾ x 7 5/8 inches), the “Gold-Illuminated Paradise Lost Scroll,” (17 x 50 inches) and “The Paradise Lost Altar Piece” (Oil on Wood), consisting of two 24 x 40 inches wooden panels. In 2011he finished his first elephant folio and the following year, the second one.
Bones-Banez has had four one-person shows in New York and one in Vermont. He had participated in at least ten group exhibitions in the same country and one in the (Society for Art of Imagination} Phantasten Museum Wien of Vienna, Austria. His name and profile appear along with surrealism greats Salvador Dali, William Blake, Ernst Fuchs, H.R. Giger and Hieronymus Bosch in the Lexicon Surreal, literally a dictionary of surrealism, authored by well-known Austrian publicist Gerhard Habarta.
Bienvenido Bones Banez, Jr. will be a featured artist in the (WAH Center’s (Williamsburg Art & Historical Center’s) summer exhibits. The WAH Center will bring out for exhibit what Terrance Lindall calls “the greatest visionary fantastic painting ever done, Banez’s “My Warlock Dream-666.” The WAH Center will be open the evening of June 2, 2012 to open the annual White Elephant sale and the gallery will also be pen to show Banez’s work.