By Nancy T, Lu
“Sining Saysay: History in Art” - an ongoing exhibit of mural paintings at the Gateway Gallery in Cubao - invites a revisit of the Philippines’ colorful and dramatic past but with a difference for some of the finest Filipino contemporary artists who proudly call the University of the Philippines their alma mater are the interpreters of events.
The 27 men and women who participated in realizing the big painting project had labored over their creative contributions to the present-day visual treat and educational experience for the general public. Foremost in their minds was the importance of being factual and accurate in their painted narratives.
Period costumes of figures in history sometimes proved extremely difficult to draw because no precise record and reference could be found despite lengthy and thorough research, according to Jonah Salvosa. A desperate need to know how attacking planes looked like in wartime Philippines drove artist Julius Samson to start collecting scale models of aircraft.
|Julius Samson's "Occupied Philippines"|
For Adi Baens Santos, history is about memory. His “Martial Law” has to do with an era of unrest and protest which he knew firsthand. As a young artist working at the Sunday Times Magazine of the Manila Times in the early Seventies, he saw up close and heard directly the extremely idealistic student leaders of the First Quarter Storm. Edgar Jopson, Ericson Baculinao, Gerry Barican, Chito Sta. Romana, and Mila Astorga-Garcia turned up one by one in the editorial office to passionately air their frustration with and protest against the establishment as well as to angrily cry for freedom and change. Association with radical activists made this artist highly politicized. His art over the years has consistently been a strong statement on social issues and causes.
“Sining Lakbay” - a project adding a digital interface to initially 10 mural works - was launched to lure the generally digital-savvy millennials into the gallery to view and talk about the exhibit. This took place three days before the EDSA People Power Anniversary this year, thereby calling special attention to a relevant work like “Martial Law.” The digital input to this 6 feet by 20 feet painting runs for a total of three minutes.
On March 8, International Women’s Day, Grace Javier Alfonso’s “Empowerment of Filipino Women” will take the special limelight through art images recalling the history of courage of the heroines in the Philippine revolution and in their continuing struggle for their rights.
|Neil Doloricon's "History of Labor in the Philippines"|
“Sining Saysay: History in Art” opened at the Gateway Gallery about a year ago and it will run at the venue for another year before the entire collection will be moved permanently to the UP campus.