February 25, 2024

Like an explosion of creativity, different art exhibits opened in different galleries last weekend. Perhaps, it was in anticipation of the throng of tourists for the annual Panagbenga Festival previously scheduled in February but postponed to end of March this year due to the new coronavirus outbreak. There are art exhibits that showcase artists hereabouts who explore subjects that focus on the lifeways and culture of the mountains. Exhibits by visiting artists make visual images of their philosophies and experiments.
Sonny Zandueta in his first solo exhibition, Energy Forms on Pintagraph, in the Mahal Likha Art Gallery at Villa Romana at 307 Ambuklao Road presented tarpaulin printed abstracts highlighted with acrylic paintings for dimension. His colorful works give art a new medium. He also uses familiar images in these parts but punctuates it with bright acrylic paint.
At Tam-awan Village, 13 local artists mounted an exhibit featuring Cordillera images and lifeways in “Kafagway”. Notable was the work of Wenny Licuanan on “The Last Mambabatok” which was a pixelized painting of Whang-od, the Kalinga tattoo artist. Close-up, one looked at a spread of squares in different colors but at a distance, the image of the elder woman became visible.
The different galleries at the BenCab Museum along Asin Road show different artists and different contemporary art works. Recently opened were “Clay Art, Pottery and Clay Monoprints” by Belgian artist Jeff van den Broeck and “Matter and Spirit” by Arturo Sanchez, Jr.
Jeff’s Clay Art in two forms of pottery and print use the same medium, clay. In pottery, Jeff’s skill in making various shapes, forms and designs of functional objects and glazing them with celadon, shino, red copper, rutile, ochre, tenmoku, and iron oxide make exquisite art. The glazes give color to the art pieces. In the monoprint, he uses the raw clay that he colors and carves to print an image on paper. He is able to use the clay for a monoprint and after as a finished piece of pottery. The exhibit was “to show that clay can be used as a medium in either its finished state (pottery) or in its raw state (clay)”.
Sanchez used collage on resin for his art work. There are layers in his acrylic and clear cast resin – encased collages which are quite engaging. The title, “Matter and Spirit”, suggests a philosophical depth to the visual presentation. The series of collaged paintings use saintly statues and crucifixes as the basic images for his constructs of the human nature versus faith and religion. In his sculptures, he uses “bulols” (rice granary gods) for his works. One feels the struggle in the spirituality of the animist beliefs in the tribe against the religion that puts faith in statues and crucifixes.
Contemporary art is an adventure in these galleries that are found in different parts of Baguio. But the one to see is “Ibagtit” at Luisa’s Café where 40 local artists used varied textures and mixes to express their social and political commentaries of life in these mountains.
The exhibit varies from photographs to mixed media art works. Sketches on paper and wood, or other unimaginable materials to express art are on the walls, posts and beams of the second floor, thanks to curator Kigao Rosimo and permission from café owner Roland “Chongloy” Wong.
This city is definitely a creative city to explore.