Mallgoers had the rare opportunity to see woven wonders from renowned Filipino artist and designer Patis Tesoro in Busisi, an exhibition held recently at the Mega Fashion Hall in SM Megamall.
A joint project of SM in partnership with Finale Art File and curated by Gino Gonzales, the exhibition featured a selection of exquisite textile art and intricate tapestries characterizing Tesoro’s approach to graphic art and textile design.
The Filipino word busisi translates to fastidiousness, while its adjective mabusisi means meticulous. In the arts and crafts, being mabusisi connotes attention to minute details. It also articulates a unique Filipino sensibility that permeates Tesoro’s embroidered textiles and fabric collages.
As a textile designer and prominent advocate for the promotion and conservation of indigenous and traditional Philippine fashion and textiles, Tesoro has worked with artisans in Kalibo, Aklan, where piña is still woven today, and in Lumban, Laguna to embroider piña cloth.
In the 1980s, Tesoro was at the forefront of the production of piña-seda (a textile that combines pineapple and silk threads) and piña-abaca (pineapple and abaca fibers). She also admonished the use of natural dyes and the farming of plants that produce these pigments.
After more than 30 years of an extremely demanding pace in the fashion business, Tesoro moved to the more rustic setting of Putol, Laguna. Here she cultivated an environment which reflected her philosophy of harmonious co-existence with nature. “I don’t throw away anything,” Tesoro says, and this propensity for salvaging bits and pieces was evident in her assemblages from the shop’s precious retazos (remnants of textiles).
Over the last four years she designed tapestries that combined printed cloth and embroidered nipis [a generic term referring to fabrics made from fine fibers]. She also guided her atelier in mastering embellishments such as beadwork and obsessive stitching.
In contrast to the flourishes of traditional embroidery on piña cloth, Tesoro’s compositions of the diaphanous material produced vivid geometric patterns. Pieces of natural, sepia, and black colored piña were combined to create checkerboard, argyle, and bricks – all reminiscent of 20th century pattern design. There were also references to the triangular linework of indigenous ikats.
While emphasizing the graphic compositions, the needlework also imbued the works with a more personal stamp, such as a hand-embroidered flower or fern to disrupt the repetitive motif.
Busisi, which was first exhibited in Finale Art File in March 2022, is one of the many exciting cultural events at SM Megamall. Exhibition partners include Unang Panahon Arts and Antiques and HABI: The Philippine Textile Council.