What is Vulnerable is Valuable: “Fortress” group show at Art Elaan

Nicole Lasquety
4 min readMar 9, 2022

“You cannot love a thing without wanting to fight for it… On the other hand, fighting for a thing without loving it is not even fighting.” — G.K. Chesterton

The medieval world boasts of some of the greatest fortresses erected in history, elaborate in their strategic architecture which stretches for more than a hundred miles, and are able to withstand multiple sieges, some sieges lasting a good year, others lasting centuries. One of the most popular fortresses, the Great Wall of China was constructed by multiple emperors over 1,000 years. A fortress acts as the marker of one’s territory. Without one, the entire territory is reduced to a soft underbelly inviting exploitation, attack, and its eventual eradication, whether the enemy decides to wipe out the entire community or infiltrate and colonize their identity. A fortress is also a symbol of a civilization’s solidity. For a community to be able to afford a strong fortress speaks of their strength rather than weakness. But more importantly, it speaks of the community’s awareness that what is vulnerable is valuable.

We may not all live within monumental fortresses protected by knights, but as one may find in these trying times, it pays to have a refuge to turn to and a first line of defense against attacks to our wellbeing and everything we hold dear. A fortress can mean different things to people. For some, the word calls to mind imprisonment and isolation, being cut off from the rest of society and living in a bubble. When someone suffers from a fear of trusting others, you might say they have retreated to a “fortress of their own making”, only for others to see it as an invitation to bring it down. As Socrates once said, “Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.”

For others, a fortress signifies a conquest that involves a series of tests demanding heroic feats for a treasure difficult to obtain; and human nature tells us time and time again that we want what we can’t have.

Still for others, their efforts to be impenetrable only speaks of having values rather than letting oneself fall for anything. And what can be more valuable than the state of our souls? If we do not erect our own personal fortress, is it possible that we are not aware of the value and vulnerability of our souls?

For this month’s group exhibit at Art Elaan, Reynold Dela Cruz, CJ Tanedo, Robert Besana, and Jojo Ramirez have joined together to put up a show entitled “Fortress”. Each artist draws from their day-to-day trials in real life, recognizing the need to remain strong as pillars of the home for their families. By showcasing their art, they bare the windows to their hearts and souls, a testament of how faith, hope, and love have served as the only fortress they need. The series invites the viewers to reflect on what they fight to protect and turn to as their refuge. “Fortress” runs from Nov 13 — Dec 3 at Art Elaan.

About the artists:

Reynold Yabut Dela Cruz (b. 1974) is a self-taught contemporary painter from Laguna who draws inspiration from everyday life. He gained attention for his art when won the Juror’s Choice in the Philip Morris Asean Art Awards final held in Vietnam in 1998 (Malaysia’s Kow Leong Kiang won the Grand Prize). He then became a finalist in the Philipp Morris Philippine Art Awards in 2001. He was a Juror’s Choice in the Letray Figuras organised by the Instituto Cervantes in 1999, and a finalist in the GSIS national competition in 2009. Since the 2000’s, he has been exhibiting his work at galleries in the Philippines and Asia. He gained honorable mention from the Vermont Asian Freeman Artist Fellowship, USA for consecutive years, and earned a News Week Feature for Saatchi Gallery, London.

CJ Tanedo (b. 1979) specializes in his Flemish painting technique, drawing inspiration from Renaissance masters, combining a classical aesthetic with contemporary subject matter and rendering his images soft and dreamy. He started winning national art competitions as a student and has since sold out solo exhibits in the Philippines as well as Sotheby’s in Hong Kong. He won Juror’s Choice for Nokia Art Awards Philippines and was part of the top 50 finalists for the Phillip Morris Philippine Art Awards.

Robert Besana (b. 1976) is known for his contemporary adaptation of classical paintings. He is currently the Executive Director of the Asia Pacific College in Makati. Since 2011, he has served on the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Philippines as Technical Committee Member for Multimedia Arts. He has held local solo and group exhibitions since 2008 and has participated in Art Fair Philippines and Manila Art Fair. Audiences can follow his work on Facebook where he keeps an active profile. Aside from painting and teaching art, Robert is also a musician.

Jojo Ramirez

Jojo Ramirez graduated in Fine Arts major in Advertising at La Consolacion College, Bacolod Philippines where he began to win awards for his surrealist paintings. He takes inspiration from the shadow and light within the characters he depicts in his paintings and love as a driving force for creation and revelation.



Nicole Lasquety

A visual artist and writer with a passion for media exploration, where big ideas are commonplace. Art, theater, personal essays. lasquetynicole@gmail.com