Dashing Through Manila’s Art Scene (ie Catching What I Can)

Annie Cabigting, Warhol's grave, for "Black and White Under A Shroud of Gray and Gray"

Apologies for the sparse postings, but somehow, a project we undertook a few months ago has morphed into Art Fair Philippines 2013, and now it seems that every free minute of the day has been devoted to that beast!  For more information—yes, shameless plug!—please do check out www.artfairphilippines.com or https://www.facebook.com/artfairph Continue reading

Sneak Peek at Ateneo Art Awards 2012

The Ateneo Art Awards Shortlist for 2012

A three-channel video installation documenting seafarers from a small Visayan island, two multi-piece sculptural installations, and a video celebrating the quirkiness of the jeepney: this year’s Ateneo Art Awards went to works firmly rooted on local sensibilities, translated by three talented artists with global perspectives. Continue reading

Windows Into Roberto Chabet

Roberto Chabet, "Redon Window/ Black Room, White Window", 1963

Of all the exhibits in the yearlong survey of Roberto Chabet’s art, I enjoyed this one the most.  It has been the only one—so far—that has allowed us a glimpse into Mr. Chabet’s personal relationships, a hint of the persona behind the formidable reputation.  While his role as a mentor has been frequently emphasized, this show has given us a chance to appreciate his interactions with his peers, an earlier phase in his artistic practice. Continue reading

Ateneo Art Awards 2011: Anatomy of Autonomy

I look forward to the Ateneo Art Awards every year.  I believe that it does a credible job of recognizing the best works by young visual artists.  I do not always agree with their

Bembol dela Cruz and Kawayan de Guia

selections, and I do have an issue with the awards’ age limit.  But overall, I still find it relevant and prestigious, a worthy acknowledgement of efforts undertaken in the past twelve months.  All the chatter that rolls in along with the announcement of winners just adds to the fun!  Yes we get names that appear every year— but doesn’t that just prove that those who always make it to the shortlist consistently do great work?   A key component to the judging process requires artists to recreate an exhibit for the benefit of the panel of jurors.  Yes, this imposes an onerous burden on the artists, one that the galleries must pitch in for. Having exhibits properly documented certainly helps.  But it does prove difficult to capture an exhibit’s original flavor, despite the galleries’— and the artists’—best efforts. Perhaps, this should be addressed.

Continue reading

"Mabini Art Project: 100 Paintings" Now Belongs to the Ateneo Art Gallery

"Mabini Art Project: Seascape"

It sure feels heartening to witness big business come to the support of the visual arts.  Last weekend, the Ateneo Art Gallery formally unveiled an awesome addition to its already fabulous collection:  Alfredo + Isabel Aquilizan’s Mabini Art Project:  100 PaintingsSecurity Bank acquired the piece for the university museum, a special project to celebrate the bank’s 60th anniversary.  This is not the first time that Security Bank has come out for the arts.  For the past three years, they have been one of major sponsors of Art In The Park, the annual project of the Museum Foundation of the Philippines. Continue reading

My Favorite Piece from 2010, The Year The Museums Showed Us How

Detail, "Balete" by Leeroy New

We saw some pretty good stuff in 2010, the year that just seemed to whiz by.  I thought the museums led the way, bringing us well-mounted exhibits that made art watching both exciting and gratifying.  The Vargas Museum started their 2010 exhibit line-up in February with Stock, a show of works by Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, then had Bound and Bomba in June, and ended the year with Rodel Tapaya’s Bulaklak ng Dila.  The Yuchengco Museum gave us Santi Bose’s retrospective, Remix, in February, and combined art and design with Pumapapel, an exhibit of works on paper, in July.  The Lopez Museum culminated their 50th Anniversary in November by inviting street artists to show their stuff for Extensions.  Meanwhile, the Ateneo Art Gallery celebrated their own 50th by inaugurating their brand new space in October with the super Lee Aguinaldo retrospective. Continue reading

Ateneo Art Gallery at 50: Lee Aguinaldo and Modern Masterpieces

Lee Aguinaldo, "Monday", 1959 August 10

Fifty years ago, Fernando Zobel, artist and heir to one of the country’s industrial fortunes, donated his art collection to the

Lee Aguinaldo, "Homage to Pollock", 1953 Jan. 16

Ateneo de Manila UniversityContinue reading

The 2010 Ateneo Art Awards

Just like everybody else in the audience, I eagerly awaited the announcement of winners for this year’s Ateneo Art Awards.  The

Shattering States: The Ateneo Art Awards 2010 Winners: Pow Martinez, Leslie de Chavez, and Mark Salvatus

Ateneo Art Gallery staff kept the final results under tight guard, even to us jurors.  Thankfully, they paced this year’s awards night programme so that none of us had long to wait. Continue reading

Leeroy New Raises A Balete While Kiri Dalena Repeats History

Leeroy New, "Balete"

Sometimes only  a Pinoy word will do to convey an incredible experience.  Find time to pass by the Ateneo Art Gallery’s newly-

Another detail, "Balete"

expanded space (they’ve completely taken over the old Rizal Library), and see if you don’t agree with me.  How else can you describe

Detail, Leeroy New, "Balete"

Leeroy New’s installation other than galing?  Because it is.  So galing!  Conceptualized with thinking that goes beyond awesome, and put together by the creative use of simple materials that goes beyond super, you really just have to say

Leeroy New next to his Balete tree

Ang Galing!”

In Balete, Leeroy wraps the posts of the gallery’s facade with his version of a Balete tree, one constructed from cable lines , flexible tubing used for electric conduits.  Accented by plastic cable ties, the tree twists and turns between the building’s columns, simulating the gnarling, gigantic roots of an actual Balete.  Also known as the Banyan in Southeast Asia, the Balete possesses a mystical reputation.  It guards sacred spaces, monasteries and old churches.  Leeroy comments that the orange cables remind him of the saffron robes used by Buddhist monks.

Detail, "Balete"

In the Philippines, we know the Balete as the dwelling place of extra-terrestrials and enchanted spirits.  Leeroy worked with graphic designer Dan Matutina for projections that mimic the enchantments bestowed by legend on a Balete.  Come by during the evenings of the exhibit’s run and catch the apparitions suggested by the light patterns.  You may even see a wisp of the legendary White Lady crossing the tree’s intermingling branches.

Another view of Balete

Simultaneous to Leeroy’s installation, Kiri Dalena mounts  Watch History Repeat Itself inside the gallery’s space for contemporary exhibits.  Kiri continues her documentation of protest slogans that began with Keeping the Faith, the piece that won the 2009 Ateneo Art Awards.   Earlier this year, she carried on this exercise in The Present Disorder Is The Order Of The Future (for which she got into the shortlist of this year’s awards) by using marble slabs as the medium to memorialize these slogans and placard texts.  For this current exhibit, she shifts to another medium—neon lights.  The idea of recording text in neon came to her after an evening spent with

Kiri Dalena's Yellow Book of Slogans

Caucasian colleagues in the red light district of Mabini.  Subjected to the indignities that inevitably fall on a young Filipina seen in the company of foreigners, the experience sparked her militant streak, leading to an “aha” moment among the flashing signs.  In her exhibit,  she recreates the tag Liar Liar in neon, appropriated from the Jim Carrey movie by rally participants of a 2004 protest action after the Hello Garci scandal.  Kiri also compiles her collected texts in her Yellow Book Of Slogans.  Playing on one wall is video clip borrowed from ABS-CBN News.  It shows a student protest at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.  The film catches school chairs being hurled from inside the campus, forming a mound of chairs that echo the detritus left from student protests during the Martial Law era.  A sure sign that some things never change.

Neon bright: Liar Liar

Both Leeroy and Kiri return to the gallery for homecoming exhibits after their 2009 Ateneo Art Awards residency grants.  Leeroy spent time in Sydney, at the La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre while Kiri went to Bandung, Indonesia, to the Common Room Networks Foundation.

History in neon

Balete runs from 14 July to 30 October 2010.

Watch History Repeat Itself runs from 14 July to 16 August 2010.

Both shows are at the Ateneo Art Gallery, Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City.  Phone (632)426-6488 or visit http://www.gallery.ateneo.edu

Video still from installation of "Watch History Repeat Itself"

"Dear Activist Write A Slogan For Me"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaXJWOCRiPU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4nPJfE97mQ

Poklong and Marina at the Ateneo Art Gallery

Un/Fold Marina Cruz Exhibit Installation

Un/Fold Marina Cruz Exhibit Installation

One year after winning the 2008 Ateneo Art Awards, Poklong Anading and Marina Cruz Garcia bring us two shows, both coming off from their respective residency grants  from the Common Room Networks Foundation in Bandung, Indonesia and the La Trobe University Visual Arts Center in Sydney.

Continue reading