Two exhibits by internationally acclaimed Filipino painter and printmaker Ofelia Gelvezon Tequi are simultaneously showing at the Ateneo Library of Women’s Writings (Aliww) Reading Room of the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City, and at Altro Mondo Gallery in Greenbelt 5, Makati City.
Twenty years separate the themes and contents of the two exhibits. The Aliww exhibit “The Joyful Mysteries” consists mainly of social commentaries in acrylic on canvas, etchings, collage and mixed media. The Altro Mondo show highlights the serenity of the artist’s heart.
Aliww is an archival facility that collects writings by and about Filipino women in all areas.
At the opening of the Aliww exhibit on Feb. 27, cultural luminary Deanna Ongpin-Recto lauded Tequi’s adventures as artist and lifetime friend.
Aliww executive director Banaue Miclat-Janssen announced the awarding of the 2014 Natividad Galang Fajardo Honors for Visual Arts to Tequi, handed by trustees Yael Buencamino-Borromeo and Edna Zapanta Manlapaz.
Tequi says of the exhibit: “The basic premise is that, if Christ lived here and now, he would be part of the simple people and live their simple happy lives. It is my way of elevating, sanctifying the ordinary people.”
The Altro Mondo show highlights a Zen-like simplicity by featuring still-life paintings of antique tables and Chinese ceramics, orchids and bonsai.
“Visions change, life evolves, age sets in, and one learns to trim down,” says Tequi.
She has made the tiny and quaint rural village of Limeuil in Southwest France her home after Manila, Paris, Hanoi and Hong Kong, where her banker husband of 41 years, Marc Tequi, took her and their brood of three.
She collects joyful memories, the happiest of which was meeting and eventually marrying Marc, the French instructor at University of the Philippines Diliman, where she also taught.
Recto recalled that it all started as a jest, while she and her friend were boy-watching at the faculty center. Seeing Marc pass by, Ofelia quipped: “Marc Tequi, may araw ka rin… at gabi!”
Tequi was born in Iloilo. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts and AB English from UP Diliman. She obtained her Diploma in Painting from the Accademia de Belle Arti di Roma in Italy, and a Rockefeller Foundation scholarship for Special Studies in Graphic Arts at the Pratt Institute in New York.
She has been awarded the Lucien and Suzanne Jonas Prize at the Salon des Artistes Français 2003, the Michiko Takamatsu Prize in the previous year, a gold medal at the 35th Art Association of the Philippines Annual Art Competition in 1982, and first prize at the annual exhibition and competition of the Printmakers Association of the Philippines in 1969.
In her over four decades of artistic life, she has held over 40 solo exhibitions and participated in over 70 group exhibits. She has exhibited in Paris, London, Munich, Florence, New York, Washington, DC, Beijing, São Paolo, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Fukuoka, San Francisco, Missouri, Singapore, Hong Kong, Jakarta and Bandung.
Pinay at heart
“My yearly exhibits in Manila are perfect excuse to see family and friends. It is always a pleasure to renew contact and simply be here,” she says.
Her prints, paintings and etchings speak volumes of her native land. She uses references to the past “to serve as contrast to the present, or to show the continuity,” she says.
Tequi has exhibited in almost all the major galleries in the Philippines such as the Cultural Center of the Philippines, National Museum, Ayala Museum, Pintô Gallery, BenCab Museum, Finale Art File, The Crucible, Lopez Museum, Luz Gallery, Alliance Française, Hiraya, Sining Kamalig.
Asked about what she thinks of the present state of Philippine art, Tequi says: “It is a far cry from the lonely landscape we had faced when I started. Now the art world is bustling. The artist is even very sought after. There are a lot of galleries. There are a lot of artists. People are more aware of the arts.
“It’s like an evolutionary process. Many are there, but only some will survive, move on, and spawn new forms of artistic expressions. The Pinoy is big-hearted and simply noble.”
Ofelia Gelvezon Tequi’s exhibit at Altro Mondo runs until April 4. The Aliww exhibit runs until May 31.