Alfonso Ossorio exhibit
To mark the 100th birth anniversary of artist Alfonso Angel Ossorio, León Gallery mounted the exhibit “Afflictions of Glory: A Representative Selection of His Work,” in February. It was the first ever Philippine exhibit of Ossorio, the Philippines-born dilettante and artist who ruled postwar Hamptons and who was a friend and supporter of Jackson Pollock and an important artist in his own right.
Included in the show was “Study of Sanctuary Mural,” Ossorio’s study for his famous “Angry Christ” mural that dominated the famous modern chapel he designed in his family’s vast sugar estate in Victorias, Negros Occidental.
Brave show on mental illness
Sining Kamalig in Cubao mounted in April “Despite My Being…”; it tried to raise awareness on depression and other forms of mental illness suffered by the artists themselves.
Fine arts professor Yasmin Almonte, herself diagnosed with depression, said that the exhibit was her way of baring herself to others, “without shame or guilt, without fear.”
Other artists featured in the very brave exhibit were Alfred Liongoren, Eliza (Z) Fontanilla Dimapilis, Tisa_Arte_de_T and Jetro Vin Rafael.
León’s “Filipinos in the Gilded Age” in June-July showcased fabulous repatriated late-19th-century paintings, sacred sculptures and furniture, including locally unviewed works by Juan Luna and Felix Resurrecion Hidalgo.
Exhibit showed a balanced, more objective view of the Hispanic, European heritage of the Philippines, and presented the country’s civilizational advancement under Spain before the American invasion.
Also on display were paintings by Felix Martinez, Rafael Enriquez, Miguel Zaragoza and Manuel Espiritu
But the most fascinating item in the exhibit is by an unidentified painter called “Habitantes Indigenos ante de la Reina Regente en la Exposicion General de las Yslas Filipinas de Madrid, 1887.” The painting showed non-Christian indigenous Filipinos being presented to the Queen Regent during the controversial Philippine international expo in Madrid in 1887.
Venice Architecture Biennale
The Philippines participated for the first time in the Venice Architecture Biennale, May to November. The Philippine Pavilion in the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale was put up at the Palazzo Mora and the exhibit, “Muhon: Traces of an Adolescent City,” showcased a survey of postwar architectural landmarks of Metro Manila as interpreted by architects and even visual artists.
The exhibit was curated by Landro Locsin Jr., Sudarshan Khadka Jr. and Juan Paolo de la Cruz of the Leandro V. Locsin Partners.
It was named one of the top 30 must-see events and exhibitions of the Biennale by Wallpaper.
Although the biennale was for architecture, the Philippine Pavilion involved three visual artists—Tad Ermitaño, Poklong Anading and Mark Salvatus.
As part of its Magnificent September Auction, León Gallery’s held its first-ever curated auction, “Two Navels,” named after the novel, “The Woman with Two Navels” by Nick Joaquin. It was a homage to Joaquin in the run-up to his birth centenary in 2017.
The National Commission for Culture and the Arts Gallery mounted a timely retrospective of the works of the late Angono artist Perdigon Vocalan, whose ecological art was clearly ahead of its time.
Titled “Perdigon Vocalan in Retrospect,” the exhibit explored the life and career of Vocalan, who trained under National Artist for Visual Arts Carlos “Botong” Francsico. Vocalan died in 2001.
NCCA Chair Felipe de Leon Jr. noted that Vocalan was an early advocate of ecological wisdom. He added that his “personification of natural forces and phenomena enables us to identify with and treat them with friendly warmth or fearful distance.”
Monuments builder and modernist sculptor Eduardo Castrillo passed away on May 18 due to cancer. He was just 71.
Known for his massive religious and patriotic monuments as well as his impressive abstracts, Castrillo was the enfant terrible of Philippine sculpture in the 1960s and 1970s whose works now dominate much of Metro Manila and even urban centers in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Norma C. Liongoren
Norma Crisologo Liongoren, patron of the arts and gallerist, died on Aug. 26 due to complications from stomach cancer. She was 69.