The Thirteen Artists Awards 2012

Leeroy New's interventions on the CCP's main staircase

I decided to come early this time around, and felt amply rewarded for my efforts.  There is much to recommend the 2012 Thirteen Artists Awards exhibit, and I wanted the opportunity to savor it on my own pace.

One gets the sense that this batch of winners took a more relaxed approach to this show.  They worked at what they do best without trying too hard or feeling like they had to make grandiose statements or monumental pieces.  I didn’t get the cramped and crowded feeling that I remember from the 2009 awards.  It probably helped that the Cultural Center of the Philippines allowed the artists to spread out and exhibit in spaces other than the Bulwagang Juan Luna and the corridors on the building’s third floor.

For instance, you must take the elevators to experience Kiri Lluch Dalena’s sound installations, recordings of nature’s fury that recall Typhoon Sendong, 2011’s super typhoon that devastated her mother’s home town of Iligan City.  While Leeroy New stretched and strung larvae-like clumps of clear latex around the main stairwell, a marvel for fans of his spatial interventions. Leeroy’s work— whether in art, fashion, or design– displays an abiding affinity for sci-fi.  These particular pieces bring Shelob’s lair to mind (perhaps because Lord of the Rings currently runs on HBO).  Coolness!

Kaloy Olavides’ multi-channel video plays on eight screens in Pasilyo Guillermo Tolentino, right across more of Kiri’s audio pieces, heard along Pasilyo Juan Luna.

Inside the main exhibit area, Rodel Tapaya’s The Early Bird Catches The Worm welcomes you.  An 8 ft. x 20 ft. acrylic on canvas painting, this piece demonstrates how much more complex Rodel has taken his compositions. Deeper colors and more elaborate patterns make his narratives so much richer.  Next to him, Joey Cobcobo draws on his Igorot roots to showcase his printmaking skills on multi-dimensional surfaces.

Rodel’s wife, Marina Cruz, has frequently mined her family’s history for her work.  This time, she uses her own story, that of a mother to two toddler boys, as material for Walking Suitcases.  Casted suitcases, supported by carved pegs propped up on wooden children’s feet, hold light boxes that contain photographs of objects around their house. Riel Hilario rendered life-sized versions of his sculpture, contemporary takes on the santo figure.  Next to Riel and Marina stands Wawi Navarozza’s Long Stretch, After The Storm No. 3.  Newly returned from a year in Barcelona, Wawi is more familiar for her photographs.  She has Displacement and Landing, with two Palm Trees, taken in Spain, to represent this facet of her practice.

The notes describe Renan Ortiz’s Empire as playing  “…with moving and painted images and sounds of war from different periods in modern-day history.  He jumbles up these elements to create his own cohesive video into a large projection.”

Costantino Zicarelli goes back to his two solo exhibits of 2011, Into The Abyss: The White Album and Into The Abyss:  The Black Album as references for his pieces here.  Burned Out (Broken Ritual) is a trio of graphite drawings of flames. When viewers look at his drawings, their faces reflected on the glass cover look as if they are on fire.  He reprises two installations:  Empire from a recent Silverlens exhibit, and one made up of 27 burned skulls to symbolize the 27 club, a group of legendary rock stars, including Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain, who died tragically at the age of 27.

Modern Unit by Mark Salvatus, made up of stacked hollow blocks, comments on the unrealistic promises of real estate developers to deliver paradise in a metropolis teeming with humanity and sorely lacking in available space.  It continues the investigation on urban living that Mark began for his Ateneo Art Awards return exhibit last year.  The structure on display simulates the amount of space of an average studio unit offered for sale.

I wondered what to expect from Robert Langenegger, master of the crass and crude.  His area seemed curiously benign—that is until I actually sat to down to watch his video, The Sun is Warm and Life is Easy in Quezon City and the Men as Women and Women as Children. A very accommodating friend agreed to be filmed while a boil on his shoulder was lanced, sans anesthesia.  Robert managed to capture every lovely detail.

Michael Muñoz had a section closed off for his work, an installation in three parts. Mike has moved from politically charged protest works to those with themes of salvation and redemption, pieces that explore his spirituality. He has also started working with indigenous artisans for the preservation of traditional crafts. In Morir Ob Christum, Morir Intra Christum, he recreates a Baroque religious painting, sets a swath of textile used by indigenous tribes in burial rituals before it, and had the street artist Joop spray paint a graffiti inspired piece to stand directly across his painting.  All three pieces represent the different stages of his artistic practice thus far.

Kudos to the CCP Visual Arts Department’s Boots Herrera and Rica Estrada, and the exhibit curator Lena Cobangbang, for pulling off a noteworthy show.  The Thirteen Artists Awards look back to Victorio Edades’ list of Thirteen Moderns, a group of trailblazing artists that redefined Philippine art of a certain era. As the primer on the awards states:  “ It is in this context that the awards continue to this day:  to mark the directions in and of Philippine contemporary art.”

The 2012 Thirteen Artists Awards Exhibit runs from 18 October 2012 to 24 February 2013 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, CCP Complex, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City.  Phone (632) 832-1125 or visit or


Two generations of Thirteen Artists Awardees: Kiri Lluch Dalena and her dad, Danny Dalena

Hear Kiri's work in the main elevators

Leeroy New

More of Leeroy's work on the main stairwell

Another view

Rodel Tapaya with "The Early Bird Catches The Worm"

Joey Cobcobo and his mom

Joey Cobcobo, "Memorabilia 2"

More of Joey Cobcobo's prints on varied surfaces

Installation view

Marina Cruz, "Walking Suitcases"


Marina with her "Walking Suitcases"

Cos Zicarelli and exhibit curator Lena Cobangbang with his drawings "Burned Out(Broken Ritual)"

Costantino Zicarelli, "Empire" and "27"

Renan Ortiz, "Ode To Empire"

Wawi Navarozza's photo, "Displacement and Landing with Two Palm Trees" and Mark Salvatus "Model Unit"

Wawi Navarozza, "Long Stretch, After The Storm No. 3"

Robert Langenegger, "The Sun Is Warm and Life Is Easy in Quezon City, and Men as Women and Women as Children"

Detail from Robert Langenegger

Michael Munoz, "Morir Ob Christum. Morir Intra Christum"

Jose Tence Ruiz reading the woven words

Mike Munoz

Kaloy Olavides' multi-channel video piece


Riel Hilario's contemporary santos

Robert Langenegger, Rodel Tapaya, Cos Zicarelli, and Kaloy Olavides

Marina Cruz photographing husband Rodel Tapaya

Thirteen Artists exhibit proposals

Robert Langenegger's Proposal No. 1

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