Strokes and Molds: The State of Contemporary Philippine Arts

July 27th, 2018

Art is such a diverse thing. It can be in a form of a painting, stroked by the hands of an artist with his brushes. Some can be heard in a song, words and notes weaved together to amplify emotions. It can be an establishment, drawn from blueprints and built to life.

Artists are ever becoming as their artworks are made into existence. Every art piece begs to be a new sight to see. Contemporary artists always aim to depict the picture of today with fresh eyes that they may have both reality and art evolve; that they may retain being called contemporary.

Form and Style
Artists have different ways of getting their message across. They put it in different forms such as paintings, sculptures, and architecture. Others—if not, all—experiment with how they produce their pieces. This is where style comes to play.

Style is developed through influence from the things that artists see and experience, the places they stay in and even just visit. They create their own way of speaking to their audience that eventually becomes a trademark for their pieces.

Style can also refer to the art of a nation or a region within a country. The Philippines, being an archipelago, keeps artists diversely influenced. The Philippine art scene is more colorful than ever, from Batanes to Jolo.

To the Regions
Contemporary art is made in many styles at one time across the globe. We cannot refer to it as the art produced in a particular historical period. Instead, we can identify a few examples from different places and have a glimpse of how the art scene is constantly evolving.

(Region II: Batanes) Pacita Abad developed a technique of stitching and stuffing her painted canvas to give a three dimensional sculptural effect called trapunto. She also explored the sea by learning how to scuba dive and made an underwater installation

(NCR, Quezon City) Brenda Fajardo takes local historic and mythical stories and renders them into tarot card paintings of socio political relevance.

(Region III: Bulacan) Elmer Borlongan mastered having his viewers focus on his creations’ facial expressions by painting bald figures, male or female. This gives the audience space to think what the painting signifies. In his work entitled Driver’s Lounge, he depicted how ordinary Filipinos, such as drivers, are dedicated to their jobs.

Sculpting is another way of creating art. It requires the use of an artist’s skill with various materials and his or her physical strength. Sculptures are made by molding, casting, carving, and assembling. Artists use different materials; wood, metal, clay, and plaster are some examples of these.

(Region X, Iligan) Julie Lluch and her three daughters, Aba, Kiri, and Sari, all filled their home with terracotta sculptures that simply bind them together as a family. Through learning and having group exhibits, the four sculptors have seen molding and casting as their way to express their ideals in life. These talented women still mold sculptures in different media and explore different forms of art.

(Region IVA, Batangas) Ramon Orlina has made carving on glass popular in the Philippines. He creates it in a cubic style which is heightened by the interplay of light and color. He is now known as the Father of Philippine Glass Sculpture.

(NCR, Manila) Sculptures meddle with functionality in Gabby Barredo’s art pieces. He set his sculptures into motion by machine and generators that enable the objects to move to and from different directions while producing sound. He uses iron, antique radios, coconut husks, bottle caps, bed springs, fire-hose coils, conveyor belts, wooden beads, computer and refrigerator parts, and cement grinder that serve as elements of the sculptural form.

From the Same Origin
Filipino artists’ forms and styles may vary but they all came from one country. Their strokes and molds are from one pattern: the Pearl of the Orient, the land of heroes.

These are just a few examples of the diversity in the Philippine arts. To see more from Filipino artists, read Vibal’s Contemporary Philippine Arts From The Regions.

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