“Rizalpabeto,” a collaboration between visual artist Elmer Borlongan and poet Vim Nadera, is on view at Manila Contemporary.
The exhibition commemorates Rizal’s life and works in the continuing celebration of the National Hero’s 150th birth anniversary. It is part of the gallery’s main exhibit, “Through the Looking Glass: José Rizal.”
Nadera’s poems about Rizal, one for every letter in the alphabet, are interpreted by Borlongan in the tradition of letras y figuras, an original Filipino art form that flourished during Rizal’s lifetime. The art form features plants, animals and human figures contoured as letters.
In “Rizalpabeto,” Borlongan utilized the iPad to sketch and paint each letter, resulting in an interesting interplay between tradition and technology with literature and visual art.
Part of the collection was first exhibited in ManilArt 2011, the biggest art expo in the country. There, it drew crowds and was an instant hit. The show featured the letras y figuras limited-edition prints, and included time-elapse videos of Borlongan’s sketches on iPad installations set to Nadera’s poetry read aloud.
Borlongan began his drawing and painting lessons under Fernando Sena at age 11. He took art courses at the UP Diliman College of Fine Arts as a Painting major and won numerous awards in various painting competitions. He is based in San Antonio, Zambales.
Nadera is a multi-awarded poet, writer, essayist and playwright. He teaches at the University of the Philippines’ Filipino Department.
“Rizalpabeto,” a project of the Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development (Canvas), will be published as a children’s book this month.