Filipino abstraction

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

AS EARLY as the 1940s, a handful of Filipino artists already dabbled in the world of abstraction. Some learned it from studies abroad while some were introduced to it by the American teachers who ventured to local shores. More than 60 years have passed and abstract art remains an entity as enigmatic as ever.

Only a few have come to comprehend that behind every whisk of color, behind every choice of pattern is a story, an emotion waiting to unfold. As what Dr. Reuben Cañete said, “It produces sensations, not imagery.”

A style that is equated with infinite possibilities and the concept of a free world, abstraction is defined by Dr. Cañete as a “valid sentiment for the need to progress beyond what is happening now.”

Last Nov. 30, the Qube Gallery once again played its part in inculcating abstraction to local consciousness, as it formally opened its month-long exhibit, the Philippine Abstract Art Review 2013.

Curated by Dr. Cañete of the University of the Philippines Diliman, it is an extensive display of works by abstract artists coming from different regions, and from different generations. There are works by Filipino artists who grew up in the 60s—when abstraction was its hype—up to the younger set, providing viewers an insight of abstract art’s transition in the country.

The beauty of Philippine abstract art, according to Dr. Cañete, is that Filipinos have an “innate talent” for working on patterns and colors. He cited that it heavily rooted on the vibrancy of nature and environment, and even certain traditions, for instance, basket or banig weaving. “It’s very organic,” he said.

Dr. Cañete said that the exhibiting artists were chosen based on their “artistic reputation” and “consistency” in the field of abstraction. “Despite the difficulty of many people relating to abstraction,” he said, “these are the artists who continue to create works in this field.”

Selected artists include Pandy Aviado, Max Balatbat, Benjie Bisaya, Benjie Cabangis, Gary Custodio, Ed Defensor, Andew de Guzman, Jane Ebarle, Jes Evangelista, Harry Mark Gonzales, Allain Hablo, Fitz Herrera, Raul Isidro, Jeline Laporga, Josef Laureano, Red Mansueto, Sio Monetra, Rheo Nepumoceno, Demi Padua, Karl Roque, Eghai Roxas, James Salarda, Aner Sebastian and Javy Villacin.

The Philippine Abstract Art Review 2013 is ongoing until Dec. 23, Monday, at the Qube Galley in The Henry Hotel.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 09, 2013.


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