The Charlie Cojuangco Collection: Augmented Minds

Louie Cordero, "Man's Head/ Zombie/ Radiation", ballpoint ink on paper, 2008

I really enjoy it when Charlie Cojuangco brings out pieces from his personal collection.  Because he has chosen to focus on current work, I find that his collection serves as a reliable index of the past decade and a half. No, you won’t find the Moderns among his acquisitions.  What you get is a great gauge of the art of his time, especially of artists from his native Negros. Continue reading

Manny Montelibano Calculates Greater Than Or Equal To Infinity

Manny Montelibano, "Pamunti", video still

Several years ago,  in the early 1990s, when Manny Montelibano first started his involvement with VIVA-EXCON (Visayan Islands Visual Arts Exhibit and Conference), he had a hard time convincing the organizers to let him mount a video installation.  This biennial event, now a prestigious coming together of visual artists from the Visayas, had then concentrated its efforts on showcasing paintings and sculpture, pretty much mirroring the inclinations of the rest of the country’s art community at that time.  But Manny, with his background as a filmmaker who worked with the likes of Peque Gallaga and Eric Matti, managed to convince them otherwise.  His forays into video and sound installations stemmed from his association with the Black Artists of Asia, the group of  visual artists from the Bacolod headed by Charlie Co and Dennis Ascalon.

What a difference two decades make to a country’s cultural landscape!  When Greater Than Or Equal To Infinity opened last week at the Nova Gallery in Makati, Manny welcomed an audience eager to sit down and savor his four film installations and sound loops.  I myself wanted to make sure to catch this solo show as I had always regretted missing Manny’s Escabeche, at Galleria Duemila, in July of last year.  I did not make it to Manny’s opening either, but I managed to find time to

Manny Montelibano, "Girls Talk", video still

drop by to see this show this week.

If there is any gallery in Manila perfectly suited for watching videos, it would be Nova.  Its cozy size, the absence of any sources of natural light, and its second-floor loft, made it perfect for navigating Manny’s show.  At first, I felt a bit disconcerted at the barrage of images and sound bites that confronted me as I entered the gallery’s main space.  But since I had the gallery almost all to myself (save for a couple who left soon after I arrived), I slowly found my bearings, and was able to focus, segregating which sound went in tandem with which video.

Manny Montelibano, "Up A Head", video still

Manny’s videos show uncomplicated, simple scenes that I found easy to appreciate, especially when viewed with his sound choices.  The two films on the gallery’s two main walls, Girls Talk and Up A Head, were filmed with live sound.  Both show three different scenes that when put together, blend to feel like one.  Girls Talk deals with the emotions of three different women.  Manny leaves it up to the audience to interpret this as they will.  I thought it was about a woman recalling a lost love.  Up A Head showed the butchered carcass of a pig, a close up of oil bubbling as food fried, a fly buzzing on some slaughtered pork, then, of all things, a live cow in a pasture.  Again, the unrelated scenes may or may not make up a story.

On the gallery’s second floor, Manny mounts the other two installations. In Panilag (Observe), he plays around with a market scene of caged chicken and ducks, and a dog that lolled about between the two cages.  He transforms the images into negatives, then into abstract patterns, like that of a kaleidoscope, with sound that mirrors the cadence of the changing images.  He even dubbed a recorded

Manny Montelibano, "Panilag", video still

speech by Idi Amin to go with the close up of the dog.

The last video, Pamunti, is the one I enjoyed most.  Manny filmed a man fishing beside a highway in Negros, then transformed the image into one of high contrast, turning it into a black and white blur with only a spot of color. He runs the film in extreme slow motion, yet chooses to accompany the images with the sound of a Formula 1 car going at top speed.  The vroom of the vehicle contrasts sharply with the unhurried exertions of the man fishing.  Here you have two disparities—that of the image’s high contrast lighting, and the incongruous pairing of the film’s sound with its subject’s movements.

I recommend Manny’s show to those who have half an hour to spare, and relish freeing their minds to take in sights and sounds that don’t require too much to derive pleasure from.

Another video still from "Panilag"

Greater Than Or Equal To Infinity runs from 6 to 27 August 2010 at Nova Gallery, Warehouse 12A, La Fuerza Compound, 2241 Chino Roces Ave. (Pasong Tamo), Makati.  Phone (632) 392-7792 or visit

Brendale Tadeo And His Machines

I first saw Brendale Tadeo’s work three years ago, in November 2007, at Art In The Park. I remember being attracted to the

Brendale Tadeo, "Machinas V"

blood red drips he used as backdrop for the distorted santo heads on his oil on paper pieces.  At that time, he worked as an apprentice to artist Don Salubayba and did projects with Anino Shadowplay.  A native of Zambales, he also became a regular at the workshops of Casa San Miguel, Coke Bolipata’s oasis for the visual and performing arts in that province.

Brendale Tadeo, "Machinas VIII"

Financial difficulties had forced Brendale to abandon his Fine Arts studies.  But the desire to create kept him at the fringes of the visual arts scene.  He attended short courses at the CCP and worked with the artist group TutoK.  He learned composition by closely observing Elmer Borlongan.  His perseverance has paid off.  Next month, he goes back to the Philippine Women’s University as the first Art On The Verge scholar, a grant made possible by Rogue Magazine and Art Cabinet Philippines.  He continues to help out at Casa San Miguel, where he now has been generously given studio space.

Dindin Araneta, Brendale Tadeo, and Coke Bolipata with "Machinas I"

For his first one-man show, part of his Art On The Verge grant, Brendale worked closely with independent curator Boots Herrera.  In Machinas, he explores how machines have become extensions of the self, especially to those who depend on them to eke out a living.  For the tricycle driver, or the messenger, or the bus driver, and even for the mangbobote who goes around scavenging for waste, the machines they work with on a daily basis act as their lifeblood, as vital to their survival as an artery or a lung.  He uses photo transfers to create the figures on his mixed media pieces.  Just as it was in Art In The Park three years ago, I thought his pieces came alive with the colors he chooses as his backdrop, the bright drips of magenta or green or orange.

Elmer Borlongan and Lisa Periquet

You do get a sense of  Don Salubayba’s influence in this particular set of works.  But then, this show marks a beginning for Brendale.  As he moves on to take instruction in a formal academic environment, we hope to see his raw promise crystallize into something purely his own.

Brendale Tadeo, "Machinas VI"

Machinas ran from 29 April to 21 May 2010 at the Nova Gallery, Warehouse 10A, La Fuerza Compound, 2241 Chino Roces Ave., Makati City.  Phone (632) 392-7741 or visit

Art On The Verge is an annual grant awarded to deserving visual artists, 32 years old and younger, who wish to continue with their formal studies.  For more information, visit or


Borlongan Pere et Fils, Emong and his dad

Brendale Tadeo, "Lola"

Brendale Tadeo, "Machinas III"

Brendale Tadeo, "Mano Mano Series"






























Today and Tomorrow: A Selection From The Charlie Cojuangco Collection

Antipas Delotavo, "Sandaan Taon, Panels 1 to 5"

What a great way for the art scene to start the year!  Charlie Cojuangco hangs selected pieces from his art collection. As far as I know, this marks the first time his paintings have been shown publicly.   The show also serves as the formal opening of his space, Nova Gallery.  Charlie has been actively collecting art from the mid-1990s.  The works on view reflect his partiality towards figurative paintings, most of them by  noted socio-realists. Continue reading

Anton del Castillo’s Conquistador for Art On The Verge

Anton del Castillo, "Battle Plan I, II, III"

The three of us first came together sometime May, Katrina Tuason Cruz of Rogue Magazine, Dindin Araneta of Art

"Allegorical Partition" and "The Battle Ship"

Cabinet Philippines, and myself.  We met to discuss another project that never did pan out, but in the course of our discussions, we hit upon the idea of putting together a scholarship program that would initially focus on the visual arts.  Art lovers all, we felt that every budding artist deserved the chance of a formal education.  The Philippine art scene somehow manages to remain vibrant and engaged despite the huge obstacle of almost no government support.  Filipino visual artists make do and produce spectacular work in various media.  We felt that the lack of financial means shouldn’t be a hindrance to committed individuals intent on contributing to Philippine art.  We hope to encourage this via Art On The Verge.

Curator Yeyey Cruz and Charlie Cojuangco

We launched Art On The Verge through a fundraising exhibit at the newly-opened NOVA Gallery in Pasong Tamo, Makati.  Businessman Charlie Cojuangco generously allowed the use of his new space for our purposes.  An avid art collector, Charlie set up this gallery to support the endeavors of artists in his native Negros.  I think this gallery, with its intimate proportions and subtle design details, will turn out to be one of the most

Anton del Castillo, "Conquistador"

interesting spaces in Makati.  Artist Sandra Palomar, Charlie’s gallery consultant, envisions the place to be a venue for shows and artistic discussion.

Ateneo's Leo Garcia and Mrs. Maribel Ongpin

Artist Anton del Castillo worked very closely with curator Patrick Flores to put together Conquistador, this exhibit of Anton’s latest work in his signature medium of oil over gold leaf.  He parlays

Toy Soldiers Installation

his continuing interest in war and warfare into this show of wall-bound works and free-standing sculpture.  In the words of Patrick, Anton “… selects three artifices to convey this outlook: the toy soldier, the map, and the maquettes of military hardware.”  Through his artisanship, Anton imbues what would otherwise be rugged machines of destruction with finesse and delicacy.  He embeds a myriad of detail into his pieces, layers that you only see up close.   As is his wont, this show once again blends age-old techinique with very modern concerns.

Jasmin and Jayjay Sy, Mike Gomez, and Felix Barrientos

Anton del Castillo, Inhabitant I and II and Breath of Supremacy

The first receipient of the Art On The Verge annual grant is Brendale Tadeo, a talented young artist from Zambales who has apprenticed with Don Salubayba and Anino Shadowplay.

Anton del Castillo, "The Unleashed"

For more information on Art On The Verge, please contact Art Cabinet Philippines at (63928)550-4816 or Rogue Media Inc. at (632) 729-7747.  Or visit

Conquistador runs from 25 November to 22 December 2009 .  NOVA Gallery is located at Warehouse 11A, La Fuerza Compound, 2241 Chino Roces Avenue (Pasong Tamo), Makati City.

Anton del Castillo and Brendale Tadeo

Toy Soldiers

Exhibit Installation