Art Propagation: Pinoys in Paris-A A +A
Monday, November 4, 2013
THERE were some nights—the ones with no work plotted on the itinerary—when this troop of nine Cebuanos hit the streets of France, soaking everything in about what they could learn of Parisian culture. The evening air during their time of visit was particularly cold, and most Bisaya lips started to dry out. So besides the paintbrushes and pencils, lip balm was deemed an essential item.
Even at the point when a guy trying to score a decent conversation with a beautiful lady, almost had it spoiled for him when the roll of lip balm dropped out from his pocket. “Is that your lipstick?”
The artist froze, and this time it wasn’t certainly because of the air. Lesson learned.
A few more things happened during their stay; including a beautiful evening stroll that almost went stuff for CSI as three of the group’s delegation were stopped by the town’s police and were mistaken for robbers.
It probably was the beanie that gave them away. Or the layers and layers of dark clothes they wore to shield themselves from the cold. The cops were looking for a cell phone recently stolen in the area. Luckily after a quick frisk, the cops let them go after they explained they were artists from Cebu, Philippines.
It sure sounded like they had a lot of fun. Anyone staying in Paris would. But they were there for work in the first place. And the toil they undertook, the stress that came along beating deadlines and the professionalism they displayed in their craft, easily delighted a number of Europeans.
This wasn’t some haphazard European escapade. It was a trip that—besides a lot of help from an international art museum, a private non-government organization and a few individuals locally and internationally based—was fueled by passion, dedication and a mission to propagate the creativity of that is, Cebuano visual art.
“It’s the first time any group from Asia was invited to showcase its art in this particular festival,” shared one of the chosen delegates, Sun.Star Cebu’s chief art director Josua Cabrera, who easily considers the exhibit a milestone in Cebuano art.
Josua was one of the artists selected to display their works in the annual 12x12 Arts Festival held at the Le Cent Etablissement Culturel Solidaire, a public art center located at the 12th arrondissement of Paris, one of the 20 arrondissements (administrative districts) of France.
“Mugna Paris 2013,” as how the delegation would like to call their exhibit, featured more artists besides Josua. The rest were Radel Paredes, Melver Mercado, Palmy Tudtud, Geraldine Ocampo, Jose Kimsoy Yap, Felix Catarata, Marvin Natural and Dennis Montera.
“We shared our works with European audience, and the art reception was very positive,” recalled Josua. He noticed that European and Cebuano art was very similar and that it shared basic traits since the Philippines is strongly influenced by Western culture.
Then there was a little occasion when the delegation experienced an awkward situation (probably due to shyness or the language barrier). It involved one of the art museum building’s administrators. “He seemed a bit of odd at first. Refusing to speak to us—although I may not be entirely sure what he was thinking of that time.”
“But when the building allocated an entire art studio for all of us to work in, and the man saw us work day in and day out, he began to warm up to us,” Josua recalled. Indeed, excellence is a trait recognized everywhere in the world.
The exhibit took about a couple of years to get everything into place. Flying a group from Cebu to Paris is no logistical joke. But through the collective effort of those involved—the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Incorporated, entrepreneur Juliene Harmel, French curator Remy Rault, the City Hall of the 12th district, the Philippine Embassy in France, members of the Filipino community in Paris and fellow artists here in
Cebu—the trip was made a reality.
While the nine learned a whole lot from the trip, they in their love of art, unabashedly showed this part of the world about the style of art that happens in this part of Southeast Asia.
The artists as expected took home with them realizations of how the art scene is globally. “Society should never take art for granted,” stated Josua. “A country should learn to take care of its art; to treasure it.” Lesson learned.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 05, 2013.