By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — The Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) has started a roving exhibit of “Artista ng Bayan” (People’s Artists), portraits of 12 Filipino artists who “used their art in their struggle for a better society.”
The “Artista ng Bayan” exhibit opened Oct. 24, at the Sining Kamalig Gallery at the Gateway Mall in Cubao, Quezon City. It will also be mounted in the second floor hallway of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CPP) from December to January next year.
CAP, which was co-founded by national artist for cinema Lino Brocka in 1983, is an organization of artists, writers and cultural workers that works toward a nationalist, people-oriented art and culture. It is actively involved in issues concerning art, culture and people’s issues as a whole.
The 12 artists who were honored by CAP through the exhibit are
1. National Artist Amado V. Hernandez (poet, playwright, novelist, fiction writer)
2. National Artist Ishmael Bernal – director
3. Carlos Bulosan – poet and fiction writer
4. Ma. Lorena Barros – poet, campus journalist
5. Eman Lacaba – poet, campus journalist
6. Romulo Sandoval – poet
7. Adeline De Leon – stage actress
8. Prof. Monico Atienza – poet, essayist
9. Leo Rimando – playwright and director
10. Papo De Asis – visual artist
11. Racquel Aumentado – cultural worker
12. Alexander Martin Remollino – poet and journalist
The exhibit, according to CAP, pays tribute to these artists because “they constantly used art as a weapon to resist oppressive culture, to promote a nationalist and people-oriented art, and to become a crucial part of the people’s struggle for freedom.”
Lorena Barros by England Hidalgo. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / bulatlat.com) Click here to view other works.
The 12 artists immersed themselves in the thick of the people’s struggle for genuine change. Hernandez was a labor leader who was incarcerated for his writings. Barros, Lacaba and Aumentado who lived generations apart were student activists turned people’s warriors. The rest were members of various people’s organizations. As CAP aptly puts it, these artists’ “rendering of social issues in paint and images, their deconstruction of social realities in music and multimedia, and criticism of tyranny in poetry and literature have inspired – indeed, fueled – resistance, the movement, and revolution.”
The artworks were made by established and emerging visual artists in the local contemporary art scene – CCP 13 Artists Awardee Mark Justiniani, California- based England Hidalgo, performance artist Jef Carnay, Renan Ortiz, Brenda Fajardo, Carla Cubero, Nikki Luna, Mervin Malonzo, Don Salubayba, Benjamin Torrado Cabrera, Beth Parocha-Doctolero, Stum Casia and Pol Torrente, and Armas (Artists and writers for the people).
Leo Rimando by Don Salubayba. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / bulatlat.com) Click here to view other works.
The visual artists used different media, from ink and pencil and watercolor to acrylic, digital art and mixed media. Though at first glance, there seems to be no harmony in the artworks, the subjects of the portraits unify the exhibit.
Salubayba’s portrait of Rimando is powerful. The eyes appear melancholic, setting a contrast to the images of protest at the background. It is in such turbulent times that Rimando honed his skills as a playwright and director.
Fajardo’s “Alay kay Eman” also bears images of protest, with red as the dominant color. Eman’s face, the central image, is in black, like the sketch of revolutionary guerrilla Che Guevarra.
Cabrera’s “Tribute to Papo” looks most sophisticated while the simplicity of Hidalgo’s portrait of Barros is captivating.
Carnay’s “A(r)mado” is a witty representation of Hernandez’s use of his pen to fight for the welfare of workers and the Filipino people. The installations are images found in Hernandez’s body of works.
The exhibit should be seen by ordinary people, especially the youth. It is regrettable that the Kamalig Gallery at the Gateway Mall is located in an area not frequented by people. It is located at the back of the theaters. No posters announcing the exhibit were visible in the mall’s lower ground floors. The next venue, the CCP, is not also accessible to many. It would be good if the exhibit would be mounted in places frequented by ordinary people – the workers, urban poor and other marginalized sectors. Besides, it is to them that the art and lives of the 12 artists were dedicated. (Bulatlat.com)