THOSE WHO STILL THINK OF art-making as an elitist preoccupation have it all wrong. They only have to look around and see the numerous auction sales of artworks and art objects to raise funds for one special project or another.
Artists don’t have to adopt Socialist Realism to propagandize their social conscience. One may create decadent art and still make this a tool to help the poor, protect the environment, or uphold the well-being of society.
Take Kulay Marikina. This new artists’ organization aims to help the community not only in promoting cultural awareness and uplifting the stature of the arts, but also in aiding people’s basic needs.
For its first anniversary, the group is holding “Affairs of the heART,” some 75 artworks, paintings and a few sculptural pieces by 25 artists, until March 20 in Gallerie Hues, MC Home Depot, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.
Sponsored by Kamayan, the exhibit is meant for Project Brave Kids. Proceeds of the artworks will go to the indigent patients of the Children’s Cancer Ward of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center in Quezon City.
As could be expected, the styles, techniques and mediums here are as variegated as there are number of members in the group.
Of the more notable ones, Ige Concepcion’s monochromatic abstraction in mixed media stands out for its size and as it is one of the very few nonfigurative pieces in the show. “Fleeting Moments of Summer” has the canvas studded with what look like buttons, glued with a swatch of jute, then daubed brown, umber, tinges of red.
On the other hand, Andy Pernia’s abstract “Tinalikdan,” in acrylic on canvas, encompasses the color wheel in blocks of red, yellow, orange, blue, green, violet, pink, purple and white.
Here, too, are Remy Boquiren’s luminous maidens shrouded in batik and Lydia Velasco’s incandescent maidens among lilies.
Both are multihued and in brilliant tones, but Boquiren’s, smoothly limned in pastel on paper and leaning toward folk art, has an ethereality about it, while Velasco’s, roughly rendered in acrylic on canvas and as Expressionist as any, looks rather heavy-set.
Rougher still and more Expressionistic are Josè Ibay’s pieces in acrylic, oil stick and charcoal on paper. Here, notwithstanding the titles “Calla Lilies” and “Because You’re Beautiful,” the floral still life is rendered almost with violence.
A celebration of the human body can be seen in Armida Francisco’s “Figure,” in acrylic on canvas, with its profile of the male nude in impasto of brown, yellow, red, orange, blue, green and iridescent gold.
It is remarkably celebrated, almost worshipped, in the curves and highlights of the lovers’ writhing bodies in brown monochrome in Elmer Torio’s pieces in oil on canvas.
In Chie Cruz’s high reliefs in silver-gray resin, however, the human form appears violated-and what violation! In “Nurture,” a baby is suckling on the bosom of its mother’s headless and halved body. In “Music Muse,” a violin bursts out of the torn abdomen of a female torso.
Honey Banal’s pieces in acrylic on canvas are notable for their suggestion and absence, aptly rendered in monochrome or muted tone. “Mother and Child” shows nothing but a pair of brown adult’s slippers, a pair of blue child’s shoes, and a child’s pencil scrawling and doodling on the gray wall-yet one feels a sense of intimacy.
“White Wall” is just that, with pencil scratching on it and an old wrought-iron chair against it-yet one feels someone has just been sitting on the furniture.
The natural world is mysteriously conjured in Norlie Meimban’s dusk-green “Gulod,” in acrylic on canvas, showing silhouettes of trees, river and a point of light.
It is lambently limned in Roland Santos’ “Go with the Flow,” in watercolor on paper, with its school of fish in yellow, red, blue and white, swimming parallel in blue-violet water.
It is softly evoked in Andy Urag’s “Morning Mood,” in acrylic on canvas, a seascape of blue-green wash.
The artworks in this show are priced relatively lower than if they’re exhibited in other galleries, presumably to sell them faster for the fund-raising.
Here is art called to the service of society. Yet among the pieces on display, not one could we call a specimen of Social Realism, none propagandistic or utilitarian.
Art to the rescue
An institution that has discovered a practical use for art is the Philippine General Hospital. At the forefront of this move is the PGH Medical Foundation, the hospital’s official support institution.
PGH’s only known association with art is National Artist Botong Francisco’s mural of Philippine medical history at its main building’s foyer. To people who come and go, it’s just a fading memorial, something to be stared at on the wall as they wait for the doctor, their patient, or their turn at the entrance.
PGH serves an annual average of 600,000 patients. Of these, 80-90 percent are classified as indigents.
Says foundation president Dr. Gregorio T. Alvior Jr.: “However, as with most government-funded institutions, PGH’s annual budget always falls short of its actual expenditure by about 30 percent. Every year it has a shortfall of some P300 million for patient care.”
This is where the foundation enters. It helps in raising resources “to augment funds for free medicines; repairs and purchases of equipment and instruments for direct patient care; training needs of medical staff; administrative needs of the hospital.” Not to mention the improvement and renovation of hospital infrastructure.
For its Alay sa PGH campaign drive, the foundation recently held at the Manila Polo Club main lounge “Sining at Awit para sa PGH,” a mini concert and auction sale of paintings, sculptures, antiques, jewelry and other objets d’art.
Artists who donated their artworks included National Artists Napoleon Abueva and Arturo Luz, Juvenal Sans¢, Augusto Albor, Phyllis Zaballero, Nestor Vinluan, Manuel Baldemor, Lito Carating, Valeria Cavestany and Stella Rojas.
Dr. Danny David donated a Romulo Olazo piece, while Dr. Gerard Parungao donated his Solomon Saprid.
We suggest that part of the proceeds of the auction be used to conserve and protect that giant masterwork at the hospital’s entrance, which, being exposed to the elements, seems to be vanishing in time. Then art would have expanded its role to include one as savior of its own.
The Artists of Kulay Marikina part 1
(in alphabetical order)
For some, art may be associated with the shocking and striking, but for this artist and mother, there is joy and beauty in simplicity. With Honey’s paintings, viewers find themselves face-to-face with walls upon walls of scenes that evoke the subjects of everyday life. A closer look reveals messy scribbles and crayon drawings that are actually contributed by the artist’s own two little girls.
Renowned for her vivid paintings of graceful, charming women, Remy Boquiren’s works are a constant reflection of the values she holds dear: love of God, caring for nature and the environment, family togetherness and self-sufficiency.
Dressed in ethnic finery or swathed in colorful fabrics, her radiant beauties are shown engaged in everyday activities: harvesting golden stalks of rice, gathering blooms from the garden, cradling an infant, or hands clasped and head bowed humbly in prayer.
When asked why he paints, Ramon Cañeza cryptically answered: “To exit my life into another color wheel of life.”
Born in Tabaco, Albay in 1958, Monn Cañeza has been painting since the age of 18. He has tried his hand at oil, pastel, watercolor and acrylic mediums, while painting in what he calls a partly surrealistic, partly expressionistic style. He finds inspiration in his family, and admits that painting eases his boredom with life.
A self-confessed Zen artist, Ige Concepcion is drawn to non-figurative modern art because of its ineffability. He uses mixed media to create abstract works that are often monochromatic yet rich in texture, resulting in mysterious shadow forms. Although possessed of no formal training in the arts, he is constantly aware of transcending his works in order to create visual predicaments. Among his favorite artists are Wassily Kandinsky, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, and Gus Albor.
Rosario “Chie” Cruz
Inspired by a famous mother (Lydia Velasco), Chie Cruz took up painting after studying Fine Arts in 1991.
In 1999, she took up masters classes at the UP College of Fine Arts. Chie’s works include figurative sculptures – mostly of women and children – in terracotta, life casts, and installations. Mundane things, what she calls “the gifts of creation, as seen in everyday life,” are her inspiration.
Cris Cruz As a veteran adman, Cris Cruz held various creative and management positions in several agencies. While employed, he joined several group shows locally and abroad until he decided to paint full time.
An award-winning watercolorist, he is recognized for his poetic and exotic paintings of flowers. He has 21 one-man shows to his credit. He is the chairman of the well-known Saturday Group of artists.
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