In her seminal book “The Struggle for Philippine Art,” Purita Kalaw-Ledesma, founder of the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP), recounted how during the 1950s modern printmaking, or the graphic arts, developed in the Philippines.
Carmelo and Bauerman Co. had turned over an idle printing press to the AAP which was first placed in a garage rented by the organization, and later given to Manuel Rodriguez Sr. for his use.
Rodriguez produced his first works from the lithograph machine, and went on to become the Father of Printmaking in the Philippines.
His sons Manuel Jr. and Marcelino gained international reputation. Philippine Assocation of Printmakers (PAP) was formed. The number of printmakers grew.
“Through the years printmaking has progressed from a mere hobby to an art form, and in the years to come it will surely gain in importance,” said Ledesma in 1974. “One may call the graphic arts the wave of the future, the medium of the general public.”
The prediction turned out to be true. Although a print (graphic artists call these “multiple originals”) may not fetch the fantastic amounts paintings do at art auctions, printmaking has become a respectable medium in the visual arts. And many painters and sculptors have tried their hand at the art form.
A further boost to the graphic arts is “The Masters of Print” exhibit at the high-end Conrad Manila behind the SM Mall of Asia, a hotel with a magnificent view of the famous Manila Bay sunset.
The show is curated by Nestor Jardin.
There are 25 pieces, classic and limited works, by some of the big names in visual art such as National Artists Arturo Luz and BenCab, Rodriguez Sr., Impy Pilapil, Imelda Cajipe-Endaya, Fil Delacruz, Brenda Fajardo, Neil Doloricon, Ofelia Gelvezon-Tequi, Virgillio Aviado.
The works are abstract, traditional, figurative, surreal, dark and disturbing, comic, social realist, environmental, religious and even whimsical (Pam Yan’s “Weighin Scale,” three eggs being cooked in a vendor’s weigh-in scale).
Notable prints were submitted by Leonore RS Lim, Angelo Magno, Kenan Ortiz, Joey Cobcobo, Jose Santos Ardivilla Jess Flores and Mary Bagaoan.
With “Sa Ngalan ng Anak,” Janos Delacruz proves he can give his father Fil a run for his money.
Jardin said Conrad Manila was planning next a tie-up with the Camera Club of the Philippines, and to put up a show on photography.
He added: “We also want to feature the collection of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. And we want to give new artists an opportunity. We are focusing on the connection, the relationship between the land and the sea, since the Philippines is basically an archipelago. These are the themes we suggest to the artist.”–CONTRIBUTED
The print exhibit, an important one, is on until August. Call 0917-8461442