New crop of contemporary voices emerges in art awardsBy Brylle B. Tabora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The winners of the 2013 Ateneo Art Awards were announced last August 8 in ceremonies at the Shangri-La Plaza: Charles Buenconsejo for “Reality Is a Hologram,” shown at Art Informal; Buen Calubayan for “Fressie Calupong,” at Blanc Peninsula; and Raffy Napay for “Thread Experience,” at West Gallery.
The recipients of the annual residencies selected by the museum’s institutional partners were also named. Calubayan was the recipient of the Ateneo-La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre residency grant (Australia). Napay was selected for both the Artesan Gallery residency grant (Singapore) and the Liverpool Hope Creative Campus residency grant (Liverpool, UK).
There appears to be no residency yet for Buenconsejo. Organizers explained that winners were endorsed to art schools that decided whom to give the residency.
Winners will have to create works during their residency, which will be exhibited the following year by the awards organizers.
In his winning exhibit, “Fressie Calupong,” Calubayan—who has a BS Fine Arts from University of Santo Tomas and master’s in Cultural Heritage Studies from the UST Graduate School— draws from his considerable pictorial and conceptual skills to arrange and rearrange his paintings, mainly expressionist, portrait-like renditions, for a tapestry of contrasting personalities and moods.
The result is a tour de force of self-examination and a charting of his journey as a visual artist. Stumbling inevitably into a career crossroads, Calubayan, a Cultural Center of the Philippines Thirteen Artists Award recipient, proves in his exhibit that experiences could be cathartic and aesthetic.
“Reality Is a Hologram,” the winning exhibit by Buenconsejo, from University of the Philippines-Cebu, is a photographic series that tries to capture and sublimate the vastness of the universe through photos of mundane things and scenarios such as shrapnel on the ground and people talking with one another as seen through a panoptic eye.
Napay’s “Thread Experience” is a touching tribute to his mother and the art of weaving. As the exhibit title suggests, Napay, whose mother is a seamstress, used thread as his medium to explore the aesthetic dynamics of needlework while drawing from it sources of emotion, memory, nostalgia and creativity.
Napay took up Fine Arts at Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Technology in Manila.
The three winners were chosen from a field of nominees that also included Pio Abad, Allan Balisi, Zean Cabangis, Joey Cobcobo, Nikki Luna, Joven Mansit, Leeroy New, and Ryan Villamael.
Abad’s exhibit was mounted at the Zabludowicz Collection in London last May. Having lived in the UK capital for many years, and invoking a sense of patriotism (or an aversion to his home country), the artist interprets Philippine history. His art and video-installation project the figures of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos as a conjugal dictatorship.
Balisi’s fascination with empty spaces led to his collection of oil and graphite paintings that depicts hauntingly vacant places in “Hollow Spaces.”
Cabangis’ art installation uses different objects found at home, placed side by side to evoke a claustrophobia-inducing ambiance that leads viewers through what appears an unsettling and eerie trail.
Cobcobo, whose interest was fueled by a Japanese papermaker while he was living in Benguet, makes use of shifu paper, a fabric made from washi, for his exhibit “Lola 101,” which was shown in four different galleries in the country. His artworks take root in the long line of matriarchal succession in his family; he seeks to project the strength and vigor of grandmothers.
Luna’s “Beat” may have taken its title from the Beat Generation literary movement led by Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, but her exhibit actually explores the marginalization of rural people due to illegal mining and land-grabbing.
Mansit’s mixed-media series, “Ulat Panahon,” combines old newspapers with oil or acrylic to make a statement about memory and society. He perceives the news media as a “one-day memory” whose headlines are forgotten the next day.
Mythological creatures and childhood tall tales are inspirational catalyst to New’s art installations. He displays an insidious but playful use of monsters that exist only in films and in our heads, as what literary critic Terry Eagleton has said, though in a disparaging note as the English Marxist critic is really attacking much of the shallowness of Postmodernism, but which the artist himself may have missed.
Villamael has two nominated exhibits—“Flatland” at Silverlens in Makati and “Kosmik” at West Gallery. Both exhibits were inspired by his travels.
“Flatland” is a juxtaposition of rustic and urban landscapes; it tackles how lines play a role in the changing symmetry of such disparate places.
“Kosmik” is a meditation on the different religions the artist encountered while traveling in Bangkok and Singapore.
Since 2004, the Ateneo Art Awards has sought to document, evaluate and recognize the works of contemporary artists.
Past winners such as Mark Salvatus and Kawayan de Guia have consolidated their reputation as a result of the awards. The winners this year are expected to follow their path.
Portions of the nominees’ original exhibits are recreated and are on display at the activity center of the Shangri-La Plaza until today, Aug. 12.