Identifying heritage in canvas

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/06 October) — What makes art Filipino?

That’s an inquiry posed by art critic and curator Virgilio Cuizon during a one day workshop and exhibit in The Royal Mandaya Hotel last Friday.

Cuizon said the process of identifying visual art as “distinctly Filipino” lies in putting heritage and soul in canvas.

Aris Bagtas next to his Durian Queen piece. Photo by JP Boga Aris Bagtas next to his Durian Queen piece. Photo by JP Boga

Cuizon, who hails from Batangas, studied art history and specialized in criticism and curation in an art academy in Dusseldorf, Germany.

To him, this can manifest in the artistic style and in the way an artist reflects life in his artworks.

Art critic and curator Virgilio Cuizon believes that art can have a Filipino identity if we put heritage in canvas. Photo by JP Boga Art critic and curator Virgilio Cuizon believes that art can have a Filipino identity if we put heritage in canvas. Photo by JP Boga

He said that the process of appreciating art is also innate in all of us—and that thorough art education awakens our senses that distinctly take in art as a food for the soul.

By making art more inclusive, he said more people would be able to support (and buy) the community of thriving artists that work hard to put Filipinos on the world map. By keeping in touch with the same child in us who held crayons during our formative years, he said we can understand and appreciate art and the ideas explored by artists.

For example, during the exhibit, works of Aris Bagtas and Emmanuel Nim were on display.

Bagtas’ neo realism style is reflected in the way he uses what he calls “traditional subjects” while painting them using contemporary methods. The result? A refreshing take on the usual mother and child pieces that are vibrant in color.

Bagtas, who studied fine arts in the University of the East (where he also taught for seven years), believes that where you come from and your culture can be put in canvas. Other compelling elements are also in the painting’s details (like patterns of a traditional Filipino daster, durian, and tuna). Other than Philippine festivals, love, faith and family are also highlighted.

His abstract paintings, called the Infinity Series, meld Chinese and Filipino sensibilities. Each painting explores circular shapes and how these align in place.

Emmanuel Lim held live painting sessions along with the discussions held for local art enthusiasts. His paintings depict Filipino life, showing depth and space with every color and stroke—a testament to the many facets of Filipinos as a people. (Jesse Pizarro Boga/MindaNews)

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