ANCIENT POTTERY. An antique dealer friend suggested that I collect antique pottery. In that same meeting, he offered me to take home antique jars and some excavated Oriental ceramics. I declined the offer for the reason that pottery can easily brake when mishandled.
The Museum of the Filipino People exhibits a fine collection of pre-colonial jars and pottery from Palawan, Cagayan Valley, Batangas, and Mindanao. The centerpiece of the museum’s ancient jar collection is the Manunggul Jar. Visual artist Isagani Fuentes has painted on canvas this impressive sculptural piece with two human figures on a boat carved on its lid and many other familiar pre-historic artifacts in his first one-man show at the Avellana Art Gallery.
POTTERY ON CANVAS. Isagani’s main subjects showcase our nation’s rich pre-historic heritage. Archeological findings have indicated that the use of terra cota bowls and jars for domestic use and as ritual pieces was extensive around the country as early as the 8th millennium B.C. All pre-colonial pottery was shaped by hand. Excavated shards show surface decorations of incised lines and scrolls.
Most distinct were the burial jars with human and animal forms. Burial jars reveal the practice of pre-historic Filipinos of exhuming the bones of the dead and storing them in earthenware. These jars remain intact in burial caves for hundreds of centuries.
BURIAL JARS. The Maitum burial jars excavated from the Ayub Cave in Saranggani Province were dated to the 5BC to 370 AD. These anthromorphic potteries have lids that were carved as human heads with distinct facial features. Each of the jars are said to be a representative of the deceased, making each jar unique.
ISAGANI’S ART. Isagani painted these celebrated museum pieces on large canvas. He applied drips and splash marks to give the jars its natural texture. The jars are set inside grids of vertical and horizontal lines and earth tones as background. The overall composition of Isagani’s paintings is a blending of traditional subjects, in this case pre-colonial artifacts with contemporary style.
EPILOGUE. Now, do I want to own ancient pottery? Sure. For as long as it is an ancient pottery painted on canvas like in the contemporary paintings of Isagani Fuentes.
*Isagani Fuentes solo-exhibit runs from July 28 to August 15, 2012 at the Avellana Art Gallery, 2680 FB Harrison St., Pasay City. For information call 833.83.57.