MindanaoArt (1 of 10). MEANDER by Art Portal Gallery for Contemporary Art

1st Mindanao Art Fair and Exhibit
Theme: Traversing the River of Creativity
Atrium of Gaisano Mall, Davao City
10 a.m. to 9 p.m, October 5 and 6, 2019 

(Exhibit Notes from MindanaoArt)

Flows and Flux in the Davao Arts Scene
Door 1-A, Paseo de Legaspi Bldg. 115 Pelayo St. (Anda), Davao City

Before MindanaoArt2019, Art Portal, Gallery for Contemporary Art has been staging art exhibits all year round. Each curated exhibit reflects and critically responds to contemporary issues in Davao and Mindanao. As they are guided by regional concerns, the artists also engage with the question on what makes art contemporary and conversant with a larger art context. Two exhibits will be launched in October: Meander for the first ever Mindanao Art Fair and Lupa, a satellite exhibit. 

4-6 October 2019

Meander features Ang Valente, Dennis Puzon, El San, Jester Oani, Leonardo Comargo, Noi Narciso, Paula Feliciano, Red Genotiva, and Trexia Sola. All are Davao-based artists exhibiting in the booth of Art Portal, Gallery for Contemporary Art.

Curator Laya Boquiren explains: “The analogy of a meandering river was deployed to emphasize that the trajectory of art (in Davao) is multi-directional and labyrinthine. The roster of artists in Art Portal, Gallery for Contemporary Art responded to this provocation. With no claims to authenticity or didactic representations of Mindanao art and identity, the artists revel in the mutable experiments being enacted – as tides change and currents flow. Contemporary art in Davao is hybrid given its colonial history and current situation as a city that weaves a diverse cultural fabric. Artists and cultural workers have been remaking the spaces of the city and staging exhibits in pragmatic spaces for several decades now. They have always been resilient and resourceful. However, the current flow of artworld capital from the state and the private sector as well as the hyper-mediation of experience allows images to circulate at a rapid pace and sometimes an enormous scale. The transmission of visual culture is multi-directional.”

Last August 2019, Art Portal launched a teaser exhibition at the NCCA Gallery in Intramuros, Manila. It was a prelude to the Mindanao Art Fair and was staged as a way to introduce Davao-based artists to audiences in Manila and drum up the Mindanao Art Fair as well. Also guest-curated by Boquiren, the exhibit featured Puzon and Feliciano with other artists often represented by Art Portal. Meander examines the flows of artistic formation in Davao and based on the present visual repertoire offered by Art Portal, an arts scene currently changing.

Artist Profiles

Red Genotiva (b. 1993) was born in Davao City. As a child, he would draw characters from Japanese anime that he often saw on television, posters, and other media platforms. Soon, this hobby turned into a serious interest in the arts.

Red Genotiva

Genotiva had a stint as a student of Fine Arts at the University of San Carlos, where he specialized in Painting (2014-2016). However, he did not complete this program of study but instead shifted to Multimedia Arts at the University of Immaculate Concepcion where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (2014). Among artists who influenced his art practice and unique stylistic approach, Genotiva cites Mark Ryden, Ron English, Charlie Immer, Naoto Hattori, Hikari Shimoda, and Yoko D’ holbachie.

Indeed, Genotiva’s body of works tend to be characterized by artworld observers as pop-surrealist. He often signs his works with the name “Oni” as a nod to his formative years. In Japanese folklore as remediated in animated content and manga, “oni” means demon, ogre, or troll, also collectively called “yokai” or creatures of the underworld.

Often these are tragic beings rejected by the light yet imbued with human-like qualities in a visual culture where the line between good and evil is never clearly demarcated. Genotiva is known for his stylized figures of children – anthropomorphic yet rendered in exaggerated proportions with multiple eyes, tentacles, and are often set in dream-like landscapes that at times teem with melancholy despite the solid luminous hues. The images are almost kawaii but not quite, adorable yet uncanny and unsettling. Oni’s solo exhibitions include “Playhouse” at the Morning Light Gallery in Davao (2018) and “Together We are Friends” at the Jose T. Joya Gallery in UP Cebu. He has participated in a number of group exhibitions in Cebu City (2015-2018), Art Portal Gallery for Contemporary Art Davao (2018) and District Gallery in Quezon City (2018). A recent solo exhibition was titled “Children” and curated at the Art Portal Gallery for Contemporary Art (2019). Genotiva currently resides in Cebu City.

Norman “Nonoy” F. Narciso (b. 1975) is from Davao City. He took up literature at the Holy Cross of Davao College. He did not go through formal training in the visual arts in any academic institution. He was inspired by the dynamic arts scene of Davao. During his formative years, he involved himself in creative productions in school and the church. He learned how to play the guitar and participated in community theatre.

Norman “Nonoy” F. Narciso

At Magallanes Elementary School in Davao, he participated in the rondalla. He also attended painting workshops at the San Roque Elementary School. One will observe that many of his artworks blur the ontologies of musical instrument, sculpture, and instalation.

Narciso participated in workshops organized by the Davao Artists Foundation Inc. (DAFI) and became part of the organization in early 2000. He participated in a project called LINKS, under the DAFI.

The list of exhibitions held under the banner of the Davao Artists Foundation is quite extensive, many of which were held at the Matina Town Square.

Like many Davao-based artists, Rogelito Cayas Jr. also taught him painting and drawing. He also learned from Ford Academy of the Arts and the late Carlota de Pio through DAFI. Eventually, Narciso served as coordinator in the National Committee on Culture and Arts – Committee on Visual Arts, Southern Mindanao (2004-2011).

He is currently the art coordinator of the Mandug Christian Development and Training Center. Narciso currently teaches as faculty member of Humanities Division of the Ateneo de Davao University. He is the artistic director of the institutions Teatro Humanidades and has been key to multiple theater productions. Of his artistic motivations, Narciso said the following: “The call to produce was natural in the region. Becoming an artist is strongly influenced by the community and opportunities at work. What was initially spontaneous became a lifetime calling.”

Jester Gumanao Oani (b. 1995) is from Lunga-og Sto. Tomas, Davao Del Norte. The 8th of nine siblings, his father was a skilled carpenter and his mother, like some of his female siblings, is a seamstress. Thus, he witnessed his family working with fabric, metal, wood, and industrial materials. This kind of relationship with the materials of industry informs Jester’s praxis as an artist.

Jester Gumanao Oani

Eventually through hard work, Jester was able to graduate with a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Mindanao (2012-2018). Among his mentors are Rogelito Cayas Jr. and Venerando Bollozos Jr.

Of his path as an artist, he said: “Being an artist is a struggle due to the inconsistencies and economical hindrances in art production. However, I’d rather focus on recreating ideas, tinkering with concepts, and engaging with issues in my environment. The act of creating sculpture is sometimes comparable to play, as though I am creating a toy that I will eventually let go of before I helm another piece. I strive as an artist because I am aiming for a sustainable and meaningful life through my artworks and practice.”

Oani has already been featured in a number of remarkable exhibits since 2012. One is the 45th Shell National Student Art Exhibition in Ayala Museum, Makati City where many emerging artists begin their careers. Others include “Bata-Bata” in SM Lanang Premiere organized under Kublai Millan. The years 2013 to 2015 were marked by several local art events in Davao, mostly in malls, and other pragmatic spaces. The artist has also been included in exhibits at the Museo Dabawenyo (2016) and one organized by the Finale Art File Gallery in SM City Ecoland in Davao (2016). In 2019, his work was well received in Art Blast 2019 hosted by Artasia Gallery in SM Megamall (2019).

Dennis Puzon (b. 1995) was born in Davao City. He first studied Fine Arts at the Ford Academy of the Arts (2012-2014) before he transferred to the University of Mindanao where he graduated in 2018.

Dennis Puzon

Among his mentors at the Ford Academy include Banjo Satorre, Glenn Baga, Magtanggol Cadayona, and Jimmy Ang. Rogelito Cayas Jr., Dominador Pamisa, Alynnah Macla Tadeo and Victor Dumaguing are his mentors at the University of Mindanao.

Paula “Pau” Magpayo Feliciano (b. 1997) was born in and spent her formative years in South Cotabato before moving to Matina, Davao. She studied in the Fine Arts Program of the University of Mindanao. Distinct are Feliciano’s works, usually of small canvases that usually feature pop surreal images.

Paula “Pau” Magpayo Feliciano

Aside from local art events in Davao, some of the platforms where Feliciano’s works were previously featured include “Art Atelier II” at the Museo Dabawenyo (2017), “Configure” in Art for Space and Urban Chic Galleries San Pablo, Laguna (2018), Art in the Park Manila (2018 and 2019), and “Art Blast: Young Bloods and Young Hearts” a group exhibition hosted by the Art Asia Gallery (2019), and a contemporary surrealist exhibit titled “The Rise of Pop Surrealism: from Underground to Mainstream” in Arte Bettina Gallery (2019).

Feliciano’s works were also part of exhibits represented by Art Portal Gallery for Contemporary Art Davao: “In Retrospect” (2018) and “At the Precipice” (2019).

Recent exhibits also include “The Pursuit of Normality,” a four-woman show at the Art for Space Urban Chic Gallery (2019) and “The River Flows North” presented by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and Art Portal held at the NCCA Gallery in Intramuros (2019).

Eloisa B. Sanson (b. 1996) is from General Santos City. She studied at the Philippine Women’s College of Davao (2015-2019) and pursued a career in the arts under the mentorship of Rodney Yap,  Dominic Turno, Romeo Dumuk III,  Wilfred Dexter Tañedo, Emi Englis, and Mai Ongkiko.

All her exhibitions are group exhibitions. She participated in iterations of the Shell National Art Competition at the Ayala Museum, Makati City (2015and 2017), and exhibits organized by her school. She also joined the Metrobank Arts and Design Excellence competition (2017 and 2018).

Fondly called “El San,” her works were featured at the Art Portal Gallery, Davao City and “At the Precipice” in a mall exhibit curated by the same gallery. Other venues that featured her works include Morning Light (2018) in an exhibit titled “Homage to the Salon Des Refuses” and public relations campaigns of malls.



Leonardo C. Comargo Jr.
(b. 1982) is from Calagundian, City of Mati, Davao Oriental. He is currently studying Painting at the Bachelor of Fine Arts Program of University of Mindanao.

Leonardo C. Comargo Jr

Past exhibits in the local context include iterations of Art Atelier at the Museo Dabawenyo (2015, 2017), “Obra Ginagmay” in Felcris Centrale (2016), “Merging Current” at the Matina Town Square (2017), and other exhibits in malls and schools in Davao.

He also participated in Art in the Park in Makati (2018), “In Retrospect” at   Art Portal, Gallery for Contemporary Art (2018),  “What does it mean to be Filipino?” under CANVAS Gallery held at the Vargas Museum in Diliman Quezon City (2018), “Configure” at the  Art for Space and Urban Chic Gallery in San Pablo City, Laguna (2018),  “Engkwentro sa Labuyo” at Art For Space and Urban Chic in Laguna (2019) and Art Blast “Young Bloods and Young Hearts” hosted by Artasia Gallery (2019).

Trexia Sola (b. 1999) is from Tagum City, Davao del Norte. She is currently studying under the Fine Arts program of the University of Mindanao under Rogelito Cayas Jr., Alynnah Macla Tadeo and Victor Agustus Dumaguing. Prior to this, she took art workshops.

Trexia Sola

She started painting in second year high school when she entered a workshop called Sining Mata. Her works have been featured in several local platforms such as Tabula Rasa Gallery (2015) and Museo Dabawenyo (2015) and exhibits organized by the University of Mindanao (2015, 2017).

Her works were also included in exhibits curated by Art Portal Gallery for Contemporary Art (2018), and Art in the Park in Makati (2018). Recent exhibits that featured her work include “At the Precipice: Davao Art on the Brink of Change” at the Davao Art Market in Abreeza Mall, Davao (2019) and “Pursuit of Normality“ hosted by the Art Exhibition Art for Space and Urban Chic Galleries in Alabang, Metro Manila (2019).









Angelo Florante Nur Valente

Angelo Florante Nur Valente (b. 1995) studied in the University of Mindanao under Rogelito “Jun” Cayas, Victor Agustus Dumaguing, and Alynnah Macla-Tadeo.

Angelo Florante Nur Valente

His works were featured in multiple exhibits in Davao City, such as Art Atelier Exhibition (2016), Merging Currents (2017), Sensitive Encounters: Mindanao (2017), and Ugnayan Art Exhibit (2017). Ang, as an artist, aims to tell the stories from the society where he grew up, to share the cultures he witnessed, and to illustrate the epics and mythologies from all the ethnic groups in the country.

Profile of the Curator 

Laya Boquiren is a Doctor of Philosophy in Philippine Studies with main areas in Philippine Art and Culture. She co-curated the international travelling exhibit Field Trip Project Asia at the Vargas Museum (2015) and initiated related off-site curated endeavors in Baguio City, Tanauan, Leyte, and 98B Escolta.

In the past, she served as curatorial consultant for Gallery Genesis and Museo De Intramuros. Boquiren has contributed in academic journals, published books and contributed chapters of books under Vibal (2015-17), has authored a book on Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice awardee Willy Tadeo Layug (2017), for whom she curated the artist’s second solo exhibition at the NCCA Gallery and authored a corresponding monograph published by the institution (2017-18).

Her most recent publications include Now Here: Access, Activate, Rewind (2018) for Erehwon Center for the Arts and the newly launched book on grandmaster of Philippine aquarelle Toti Cerda (2019). She obtained a master of arts in Art History from the University of the Philippines, Diliman (2009), and has completed short programs at the Institute of Media and Entertainment in New York (2009) and Keio University in Japan (2010).

Boquiren currently teaches at the Arts Department of the University of Asia and the Pacific. Her recent curatorial project includes The River Flows North featuring Davao-based artists at the NCCA Gallery. Her cultural work has always been multi-local, her paternal relatives being from Cagayan de Oro.

ART PORTAL, GALLERY FOR CONTEMPORARY ART is located at Door 1-A, Paseo de Legaspi Bldg. 115 Pelayo St. (Anda), Davao City