Thursday, October 27, 2016

Philippine Art Trek IV: Exploring Identity with 46 Filipino Artists

Posted on Thursday, 28 October 2010 

Art Trek IV Poster Resized 590 PixelsIn the short space of four years, the Philippine Art Trek has become one of the marquee annual events on the ever-expanding Singapore visual arts scene.  This year’s event promises to be very interesting as Philippine Art Trek IV will take art lovers along the trail of 8 top art galleries in Singapore, displaying the works of 46 contemporary Filipino artists who are making waves in the international and local arts scenes.

A major project of the Philippine Embassy in Singapore, this year’s Art Trek will feature the works of an eclectic roster of Filipino artists, further solidifying the Trek’s reputation as the biggest annual Philippine art event outside of the country itself.

Last year, Art Trek’s anchor exhibit, In the Eye of Modernity:  Philippine Neo-Realist Masterworks from the Ateneo Art Gallery, together with its companion exhibit, Thrice Upon a Time, brought to Singapore the largest collection of Philippine art masterpieces ever to be shown publicly overseas.  The exhibits attracted thousands of visitors to the Singapore Art Museum over its four-month run there.  The exhibits received uprecedented reviews in Time magazine, the New York Times and the Asian Wall Street Journal followed.

This year’s Art Trek IV tackles the theme of identity in Philippine art in the works of a dazzlingly diverse group of contemporary Filipino artists who are making waves on the international and local arts scenes.  Among the highlights of this year’s Trek is Taksu Gallery’s exhibit “Serial Killers”, which brings to Singapore the post-modern works of Filipino artists recently featured at the Tate Modern in London.

To add perspective to Art Trek, a forum entitled “The Spectre of Comparisons:  Reflections on Contemporary Philippine Art” will open the series of exhibits on 2 November at the Institute of Contemporary Arts and Crafts, Lasalle College of the Arts.  Jointly organized by the Philippine Embassy and Osage Art Foundation (OAF), this forum will feature OAF’s Assistant Director Isabel Ching; Norberto Roldan, co-founder of Green Papaya Art Projects; and Joyce Toh, Assistant Curator at the Singapore Art Museum, as speakers.

Following this opening event, Art Trek exhibition dates for the participating galleries will be staggered thoughout the month of November and the early part of December, as follows:

  • “Serial Killers:  From Tate Modern to Taksu Singapore”:  running from 3 November to 27 November at Taksu Gallery;
  • “Beyond Borders V”:  running from 4 November to 30 November at Art Space, Royal Plaza on Scotts, by Artsentralasia;
  • “Tres”:  running from 10 November to 30 November at White Canvas Gallery;
  • “Time and Place”:  running from 11 November to 5 December at Sunjin Galleries;
  • “New Grounds”:  running from 17 November to 30 November at Momentous Arts (at 20 Lor Telok, just off Boat Quay);
  • “Opulescence”:  running from 23 November to 8 December at Artesan Gallery+Studio; and
  • “I.D.ENTITY:  Defining National and International Identities”:  running from 24 November to 9 December at The Regent Singapore, by Galerie Joaquin Singapore.

“Serial Killers” show comes directly to Singpaore from an acclaimed run at the renowned Tate Modern Gallery in London.  It is a project of The Green Papaya Art Projects, an independent initiative founded in 2000 which aims to provide creative space and opportunities for the artistic community in Manila and beyond, embracing various art forms from photography to painting, installation to sculpture, and dance to music.  “It’s a platform for emerging and young Filipino artists, as well as foreign artists, who are engaged in a multidisciplinary art practice…a melting pot where people can exchange ideas and collaborate,” explained Norberto Roldan, co-founder and artistic director of Green Papaya.  According to him, being part of the festival at Tate Modern is a reflection of the active and vibrant art scene in Manila.

“New Grounds” sees Momentous Arts showcasing the work of four young Philippine painters and/or sculptors:  Marcial Pontillas, Ricky Ambagan, Eman Santos and Jinggoy Buensuceso.  The exhibition brings to the fore new perspectives and vigor in contemporary art practised in the Philippines.  The artists’ works are intircately linked to their homeland and vividly portrays the values, pastimes, familiar places, rituals and fiestas that Filipinos indulge in, from Pontillas’ highly spirited configuration of exuberant crowd scenes and lush impastos to Ambagan’s paintings chronicling the lives of common folks, vendors and familiar places, rendered in fleeting scenes of arresting colours and light, all infused with an energetic vibe which makes these ordinary lives and scenes extraordinary.  In contrast, the works of Santos deftly probe themes of love, family, respect and loyalty, employing bold techniques and devices such as elongation and well-planned distortion to get to the roots of the Philippine identity.  Meanwhile, Buensuceso innovates by using buffed aluminium metal as his canvass, “painting’ on them with arc welders and sharp objects.  The poetic quality of his hanging sculptures lies in their reflective character which allows them to be in constant flux.  They change accordingly, indefinitely, transforming with the immediate environment through every light, every hue and every face that peers close enough.

“Tres” (or ‘Three’) is the latest group exhibition of Siningapor, a collective of Philippine artists living in Singapore.  They strive to create and present original, engaging work which, while cross-cultural, still remains distinctly Filipino.  Eleven artists will be represented in the show, which engagingly explores various aspects of the number Three, from the very practical and mundane to the utterly mystical.

“Time & Place” is the Sunjin Galleries’ offering for this year’s Trek.  The exhibition’s subtitle, “A rediscory of normality,” captures the themes and approaches of the four renowned Filipino artists featured.  From the scene of a wizened ice-cream vendor handing an eager young boy a gleaming vanilla ice cone to the subtle anticipations of two young girls looking forward to growing up, to two street cleaners dutifully working or the haunting image of a musician sitting in contemplative solitude, the works in Time & Place remind us to enjoy and learn to better appreciate the little moments in our daily lives.  Artists Norlie Meimban, Migs Villanueva, Azor Pazcoguin and Anthony Palomo show us convincingly through simple beauty that an event or a moment does not have to come with a date, time, venue and dress code for it to be significant.

As the name “Beyond Borders V” suggests, this is the fifth edition of this show presented by Artsentralasia.  As with the previous instalments, the exhibition is a celebration of contemporary Philippine art with new paintings and ceramics by some of the leading and most admired artists in the Philippines today.  It aims to highlight the color, dynamism and diversity of Philippine art; as such, it represents a cross-section of the country’s leading contemporary artists and the forms and genres they use to forge their statements.

“I.D.Entity” again showcases Galerie Joaquin Singapore’s ensemble of young artists.  One of the highlights of this year’s offering will be the presentation, for the first time, of works by the prize-winning artist Max Balatbat, one of the most exciting abstractionists of his generation.  Other stunning works include Jerry Morada’s tinfoil-attired women, flashing with pop culture elan, animate sepia-colored renditions of antique photographs, blurring the line between history and modernity; Proceso “Pro” Gelladuga’s equally feminine subjects curl in a danseur’s elegance that points to the artist’s own concerns as a choreographer and Hong Kong-based expatriate worker; Eufemio Rasco’s depiction emotionally ambivalent portraits) of alabaster-skinned female nudes, curled around a paint-splattered floor in fetal positions which carries the emotional force of an unseen trauma that is both personal and allegorically social.  Finally, there is Renante Aurelio’s heroic monochormes of lower-class labourers and surrealist montages of paracritical paranoia suggest at once the push and pull of Philippine contemporary art as its digests and regurgitates history, memory, aesthetics, and experience.

For more information, please visit the Philippine Embassy website,, or contact Ms. Nathalie Fajardo at tel. no. 6737-3977 or by e-mail at