By Constantino Tejero
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 01 January 2007
PHILIPPINE POLITICS may be a mess, the economy is on the brink, and the poor will always be poor, but the one thing still alive and kicking in the country all year round is the arts. A salute to the Filipino artist then for always deserving of our thumbs up, way, way up.
Elderly but still potent
Some senior artists don’t seem to dry up of creative juices, as they never fail to mount exhibits of their most recent works with undiminished potency. Just when you think they’ve long been rolling in their laurels, you stumble on new works by the likes of Arturo Luz, Juvenal Sansó, Roberto Chabet, Malang Santos. Even the nonagenarian Anita Magsaysay-Ho startles the art world now and then with a brilliant piece or two.
Young but very, very strong
Upcoming artists and relative unknowns often come up with strong art that can hold a candle to works by veterans. In June, Jesus Genotiva held his first solo show of expressionist portraits so potent one couldn’t look at them with equilibrium. One Marlon Magbanua impresses with abstraction of such fineness it should shame the clumsy brushwork of a few overhyped abstractionists.
Still on the frontline
Artists we haven’t heard from for some time have returned to the scene. Cesare and Jean Marie Syjuco came back from abroad and continued their series of avant-gardist installations and performances. Some we thought have stopped production, such as Red Mansueto and Alan Rivera, reappeared in group exhibits with interesting innovations on their respective art.
Hearts of gold
Artists can always be relied on to raise funds for charity. Early this year, Kulay Marikina exhibited nearly 100 artworks whose proceeds went to indigent cancer-stricken patients of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center. This month, Impy Pilapil and Ann Pamintuan are exhibiting their sculptural pieces for the cause of Make-a-Wish and Kythe Foundation. This only underscores the fact that artists are really humanitarians at heart.
Excitement of awards
The Thirteen Artists Award, now given by the Cultural Center of the Philippines every three years, proves to be as exciting as ever. Many of the awardees this year are precisely the same people the development of whose respective art we have been watching for some years now: Jeho Bitancor, Jayson Oliveria, Lyra Abueg Garcellano, Gary-Ross Pastrana, Luisito Cordero, Ma. Cristina Valdezco, Jevijoe Vitug, Mariano Ching, Daniel Coquilla, Lena Cobangbang, Ronald Anading, Eugene Jarque and Yasmin Sison-Ching. This award can be more exciting than the National Artists Award as its choices hold an element of surprise while the latter’s are often a foregone conclusion.