By Nancy T. Lu
Arteries, veins and capillaries get viewed by Dr. William T. Chua not just from a cardiologist’s probing perspective but also from an artist’s creative angle.
Ever since he began putting aside his stethoscope to momentarily pick up the painting brush outside of his clinic hours years ago, he has worked instinctively and naturally on heart-inspired art. He has lately even embarked on a continuation of his heart series but in a different medium.
At the age of 64, Dr. Chua prepares to launch and unveil on July 30 an enormous landmark sculpture called “Puso (Heart)” in front of the Medical Arts Building at the Philippine Heart Center, thereby announcing that he has become a sculptor, too.
Chua's labor of love, three years in the making, measures 11 x 18 x 18 feet in size and weighs 800 kilos. Black iron pipes of 12-inch diameter, which were given a red urethane finish, were used to give shape to the final design with a black granite base. The symbolical heart sculpture's very first study was realized, using television cables, three years ago. Several versions evolved over time.
Artist Dr. Chua’s paintings in the past focused on themes like the workings of the human heart if not on life itself. He explored the labyrinthine passageways of a pumping heart, finding heartwarming painting ideas and meanings in the intricate network designed to ease blood flow from and to this most vital body organ. His paintings hang in places like the St. Luke’s Medical Center and even at the American College of Cardiology’s Heart House in Bethesda, Maryland, USA.
As a cardiologist, Dr. Chua lists among his friends such well-known artists like the late Ang Kiukok and Romulo Galicano. Their talent and success in their creative calling moved Dr. Chua to paint and actually learn from them. Although he did not graduate from a fine arts school, Dr. Chua showed a gift and burning passion for painting comparable to that of famous artists emerging from academic training.
Dr. Chua’s paintings, which have been done mainly in oil or acrylic but occasionally in watercolor and pastel over the years, have shown style influences in stages by Filipino artists like Vicente Manansala and H.R.Ocampo. Periods devoted to the painting process from exciting conceptualization to dramatic execution have been filled with truly happy moments for this doctor preoccupied otherwise almost daily with attending to and mending the broken hearts of his cardiac patients.
Dr. Chua started exhibiting his paintings in 1996. His inspired works over the years dwelled on different subjects showing, among others, his love and affection, sentimentality and sensitivity towards his family. He also became fascinated with slices of nature as seen in his bamboo, flower and foliage series. All told, his heart continues to beat and throb with excitement over art.This particular cardiologist known to look after his patients with care and kindness enjoys every chance to wear the hat of an artist.