23rd 2007
Portrait of the artist as traveler

Posted under Articles

By Maria Teresa Lapid Rodriguez

arts2Thirteen Filipino and Filipino-American artists are featured in the “New York-Manila-New York” exhibit, which runs from Aug. 9 to 23 at Ayala Museum’s Artists’ Space.

Without a doubt, the featured artists are all travelers, as well as adventurers of the world, of myths and social phenomena, or, introspectively, of the self. The exhibition is characterized by a sense of wander and a sense of place into many levels of life and many expressions of art depicting different parts of the world. Nonetheless, there is a common thread that binds them: wherever they have been and have done, the dots connect to the Philippines, implied or outrightly expressed in their art.

Spearheading the show is the Society of Philippine American Artists, an artist organization based in the States. The many attempts to create an artist organization from the 1960s onward finally gelled in 1995 perhaps because of Manuel Rodriguez Sr. and his co-founders Jose Dureza, Angelito David and Oscar Dizon. The members are from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut and growing beyond. Its current president is Lenore Raquel-Santos Lim.

The first seven artists in this show are first generation Filipino-Americans whose works are quickened by the ideals of the Philippine culture and historical past as well as the global values permeating in today’s Filipino–American communities.

Manuel Rodriguez Sr. is best known as the man who introduced printmaking in the Philippines. Rodriguez’s “Once Upon A Dream” is built on layers of muted oil colors rendered in small brush strokes he calls squiggles.

In Imelda Cajipe Endaya’s  “My Mother and Me,” contradictions exist at every angle of the painting that visually divides into the cold of winter against the warmth of a home featuring a living room rich in symbolisms.

In Lenore Raquel Santos Lim’s “Constant Evolution,” the artist sees life as an ongoing process alluding to New York’s tragic event of the destruction of the World Trade Center.

In Madonna’s “Bamboo and Butterfly,” washes made from red rice coffee are inspired in the manner of sumi-e painting that are disciplined and mysterious in their simplicity.

Mars Custodio presents a refreshing view of the world unadulterated by the canons of painting such as seen in his painting of his garden, “Le Petit Jardin.”

Jose Dureza’s “Bayou Diversity,” “Watermill House” and “Plantation House in Dixie” and many other paintings document America, perhaps best illustrated in the graphite pencil work of the New York harbor entitled “Lost Perspective.”

Julian Oteyza delves into the subliminal and surreal in “Awit ng Panaginip (Dream Song),” which articulates female faces fading in and out in wistful mood.

The younger generation refabricates similar ideals of the first generation through their own experiences. Some grew up in the United States and visited the Philippines as adults, and whose works are exploratory.  Some grew up in the Philippines and visited the United States as adults whose works are meditative or “imploratory.”

In Mia Herbosa’s self-portrait, she presents herself as Albrecht Durer. In the original, Durer represented himself as a philosopher.  In Herbosa’s version, she represented herself as a winner.  In another self-portrait, etched rather than painted, she captured a sweetness with a few lines in the Chinese manner. A true portraitist, she grasps and depicts her sitter’s individuality as in “the man with red sweater and hat.” Her impeccable skill stretches to other fields such as a still life with a jade pot in the manner of Vermeer. The issue is not copying the masters but discovering and truly understanding the essence of their greatness.

Toots Magsino explores conceptual art with her handwritten text art embellished with collages of photographs and other memorable articles.

Manuel Gamboa’s primal approach to a subject touches upon basic beliefs and value systems.

Gregory Raymond Halili focuses on the intricacies of nature like an entomologist in the case of insect representation or a behaviorist in the case of human representation.

Francisco Bordeos’ “Unlikely Crowd” is an allegory of humanity reduced to a clown encapsulating a slew of “unlikely crowd.”  This is not without precedent in the realm of symbolisms.

Christine S.C. Jeanjaquet is influenced by Pacita Abad’s trapunto process that overlapped and padded fiber materials, and her own experience with mixing and overlaying compounds as a product designer in the Philippines.

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Curator and museologist Teresa Lapid Rodriguez is director of the Montclair State University Art Galleries, for which she acquired the sponsorship of the George and Helen Segal Foundation, and the naming of MSU’s latest gallery addition after the world-renowned artist, George Segal. Her publications include: Igarta: Monumental Figures (2000), Celestial Boundaries (2004), Street Crossing: Photographs by Donald Lokuta (2006), Alexander Calder Hammocks and Wall Hangings (2006) and Transparent Colors: Filipino American Watercolorists.