Art Now For Everyone at the SM Mall of Asia

The current art scene in the Philippines is so active that art shows open almost every week. The one thing I observed is that most art exhibits are usually held in enclosed venues and most of the time they are exclusive only to those who are known to afford artworks. Such case creates a wall that separates art and the people.

My stand has always been art should be for everyone. I don’t mean that an artist should give away his works for free or an art critic should stop from making scholarly discussions about art but there should be a way for everyone to enjoy and learn from original fine art at their own pace. There must be a venue that is free and accessible where the people can recognize and appreciate the works of our local talents based from their individual taste without being dictated by fads.

That’s why I really appreciate the efforts made by gallery owners and institutions to make original Filipino artworks accessible to the general public. The recently concluded Art Now For Everyone exhibit is a remarkable example. This art exhibit was set in a high traffic area at the SM Mall of Asia. It showcased a choice of contemporary works by Filipino artists who are actively exhibiting and gaining international recognition.

There was a time when I find going to art exhibits especially if it’s a by invitation only event to be intimidating. It’s like one is required to interpret, appreciate, and react smart to everything they see. Art appreciation discussed in a scholarly level can be a nosebleed.

To describe the language of the paintings and sculptures in this mall exhibit, I will based it from reactions I obeserved from different people. I saw children react with familiarity to a collage of grade school text books that was formed into an airplane and to a can of Pringles in a hyper-realistic painting by Bembol de la Cruz

There were children who thought the artwork with embossed faces to be strange but they were also equally frightened by the images in Augusto Elopre’s The End Of Black. Looking closely at this piece I realized it’s made of feathers, arranged like a mosaic and pressed into the canvas. Amazing!   

My personal favorite is Rodel Tapaya’s Aswang Steals Fire from Gugurang. This one looks like an illustration straight from a children’s story books. I also like Nicole Lebajo’s identical white bottles in yellow green background. 

Equally impressive were Salvador Lirio’s sculptural assemblage of found objects he calls Sandata ni Shiva and Alfred Esquillo’s strange bike that has Makasalanan embossed on its crown. 

Viewers were encouraged to identify the personalities in the mural Miting de Atrasado by Jose Tence Ruiz Jr. while there were those who easily recognized the inspiration for Robert Besana’s amazing ballpoint on wood. 

Marshals were stationed in the exhibit floor to remind the viewers not to touch the artworks. This is also a way of educating the viewers on the proper way to interact with artworks.  

Picture-taking of the artworks were encouraged as well. In fact, one of the marshals informed us to switch the negative feature of our camera phone to be amazed by the works of Kirby Roxas and Kiko Escora

While viewing at Caloy Cabuco’s Under Control, I overheard a group saying that painting shows Noynoy having an audience with the press. But judging by the hair, I don’t think that’s the president.

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