Artists show Mindanao's colors in Brussels exhibit

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/09 November) —Through their artworks exhibited in Brussels, the Belgian capital, in September this year, Mindanao artists have sent Europe the message that there’s more to Mindanao than just war, according to Tanaw Mindanaw organizer Mabel Guia Acosta.

“What captivated them were the colors,” Acosta said, referring to the European people’s reactions to the artworks of Davao artists Joel Geolamen and Kublai Ponce Milan, Zamboanga artist Rameer Tawashi and national artist Dr. Abdulmari Imao, during a month-long exhibit in Brussels that ended in October 9 this year.

“It might not be possible to understand an entirely different culture from their own but whether it was Kublai Milan’s ‘habal-habal,’ or Dr. Imao’s “sarimanok,” Joel’s “tubaw series” or Rameer’s works, from day one to the 30th, people always came up to us to ask,” Acosta told Mindanews Tuesday.

“They were captivated by the colors. They accepted the artworks as part of the culture of Mindanao,” she enthused.

She said people were aware that Mindanao was the site of the Ampatuan massacre that killed 58 people, including 33 journalists, on November 23, 2009.

“A troubled area,” Acosta said, “But when they saw Kublai Milan’s artworks, they realized that these were happy children. It was an inspiration.”

Although the European Union may be pouring the bulk of its development funds to support the peace and development efforts in Mindanao, it was perhaps the first time that Europe looked at Mindanao through the cultural works of its artists, Acosta said.

“Europe loves Mindanao, it has been pouring a lot of money to Mindanao in support of the peace building effort and in support of the women, but it will be the first time for them to know more about Mindanao apart from the problem,” she said.

“Through the art showcasing the best of Mindanao, they will know more about the culture and the people,” she added.

After the success of the four artists’ month-long exhibit in Brussels that ended on October 9, Acosta said she is now awaiting an approval from the European Parliament to organize a four-city-touring exhibit in May next year.

She said she plans to organize another tour that will kick off in Milan in May next year to cover Rome, Paris, Brussels and parts of Germany.  The exhibit will feature more Mindanao artists exploring women’s themes.  (Germelina Lacorte/MindaNews)