Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

Text by: Carren Jao
Published: MEGA Magazine July 2008

AFTER ten years as a professional basketball player for team Coca-Cola, William Antonio has decided to retire – to paint flowers. The statement met with incredulous laughter among Antonio’s teammates, but was quickly replaced with admiration at the sight of his work.

When asked about the progress of his art, William Antonio says, “I had no idea I’d be here. I was just going with the flow.” After only eight months of picking up a paintbrush, he has already exhibited his work at the Blue Moon Gallery in Seven Suites Antipolo along with three other artists- Andy Orencio, Victor Santos, and Jcrisanto Martinez.

He speaks tentatively, as if still getting used to talking about his style on the canvas as opposed to his moves on the court. His 6’3” frame rests comfortably on the wooden chair inside his cozy home as he contemplatively says, “Art has been present my whole life,” recounting the moments of his childhood spent drawing flowers alongside his brother, Peter, an accomplished landscape artist in California.

William paints backgrounds of bright blues, greens or magentas that provide the perfect foil for his ever-present impressionist flowers. When probed about his choice of subject, a sheepish smile appears on his face as he remembers childhood days on the family farm tending his grandmother’s garden. He gradually warms up to the topic and gamely mimics his grandmother’s voice animatedly saying, “William, pull out the weeds!”

With his artwork, he strives to convey a sense of freshness using colors that dance in front of the viewer and a sense of calm using his technique that alludes to a certain reality rather than simply mimicking it. The viewer’s eye wanders around the whole piece, recreating a memory or simply creating an idyllic scene. What is placed before the beholder is himself– his own thoughts and perspectives on life. William intentionally veered away from forthright classic realism, preferring instead to create art that was “mysterious to the eye, [where] everyone has their own interpretation.”

William’s art reflects his renewed lifestyle -- easy and flowing. Nowadays, he plays Mr. Mom to his two children Raine, 6 and Cy, 4 taking them to school or simply spending precious time with them as they grow up. Away from the pressures of professional basketball, his wife Ana, Chocolate Clothing Co. founder and managing director, describes him as being a lot mellower. “Every day he wakes up so happy. Sometimes waking up as early as 5 a.m. to paint.”

“It was like a ton of bricks fell off,” chimes William. He goes on by saying, “I did not want to continue playing for the wrong reasons.” For people such as he, attuned to their own body’s rhythms, retiring was an easy decision to make. He now follows an old calling for artistry. But never one to leave old loyalties, he continues to promote the healthy and active lifestyle as Coca-Cola’s Brand Ambassador.

William has successfully begun a new chapter in his life as an artist. His current exhibit has already caught the eye of fellow artists, one of who has invited him to showcase with him. He has also been commissioned to do a painting that will hang beside a Sanso and an Albor. Though for William, it doesn’t end there. “I want to get to the point where I am comfortable with my style and really create my own abstract-floral signature.”

He dreams of one day doing his own solo show and, in the future, working with other artists to replace the Philippines’s current MMDA art with murals depicting a fresh and lively organic scene enough to soothe harassed drivers and weary commuters.

Things are certainly turning up roses for William and avid fans can only accompany him on his journey to witness the beauty of his art as it comes into full bloom.

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