Friday, September 21, 2012

Recollection 1081: Clear and Present Danger (Review)


The declaration of Martial law created a great impact in the Philippines. It happened forty years ago, when President Ferdinand Marcos issued Proclamation 1081 that leads to series of events that totally change the history of the lives of Filipinos.

The events that haunt artists on that era, who had experienced and live under the martial law, are depicted on the tell tale exhibit organized by PIGLAS. The exhibit presented these stories through visual art and literary works of the period.

The exhibit entitled Recollection 1081: Clear and Present Danger (Visual Dissent on Martial Rule), 1972 to 1981 will run from July 14, 2012 - September 30, 2012 inside Cultural Center Of The Philippines (CCP).

I think, one of the exhibit’s goals is to present these incidents from the past to the new generation. As these series of works from the artists, who have from one way or another experienced Martial Law under Marcos regime, portrayed us the spirit of time during that era. This exhibit is also necessary as it would instill history of the struggle and the revolutions that took place. The core values of the Filipino and the collective memories will be presented through this kind of exhibit for the coming years. As per Alice Guillermo:

“Art has always reflected society and the conditions in which people live, at the same time that it has contributed to the process of social and historical change. During the Marcos regime, an observed cultural phenomenon was the emergence development of protest art in various forms.”

It is from this method that that the past is revisited and the present day youth will be educated with their identity as a Filipino. In addition, the exhibit is not to criticize or denounce Martial Law, but merely to recall.

Antipas Delotavo’s "Itak Sa Puso ni Mang Juan"

Getting inside Bulwagang Juan Luna (Main Gallery), one will see rarely seen choice of works from private collections that are dated ranges from 70’s to 80’s and some recent digital works from selected artists. One of the work that one would barely missed is Antipas Delotavo’s "Itak Sa Puso ni Mang Juan", watercolor on paper, 1978, Alex Tee Collection which was really prominent in historical art books.

I’m quite amazed how the works of famous artists such as Bencab, Santi Bose and Ang Kiukok are present on the exhibit. One of the works that caught my attention is "For Hire", (A/P, intaglio, circa 1981, Artist's Collection) from Bencab which I just known that his full name is Benjie Torrado Cabrera. Then my personal favorite would be Ang Kiukok, "Scream II", (pen and ink on paper, 1983) and "Scream I" (oil on paper and collage, 1980, Private Collection). Was also awestruck by Santi Bose’s technique and symbolism on his works which i failed to take picture of.

Ang Kiukok's "Scream II"

One of my teachers in Art Studies, Prof. Brenda V. Fajardo, also had her work become part of the exhibit. It’s entitled Baraha ng Buhay ng mga Babae and she depicts the lives of the women during that time. Being asked how it is to be an artist during that time, she said it is quite a challenge for the artist to voice out their opinions and views during that time, especially if it’s against Marcos.

One of the notable artists present are: Nune Alvarrado, Jose Tence Ruiz, Charlie Co, Al Manrique, Anna Fer , Pablo Baens Santos, Edicio dela Torre, Onib Olmedo, Orlando Castillo, Virgilio Aviado, Renato Habulan, Phyllis Zaballero.

In addition to the works mounted  on the wall, there’s an installation art entitled, "Kinupot” by Edgar Tulusan Fernandez, (wood and fabric, 1978, Ateneo Art Gallery Collection) at the center of the gallery.

I do consider all the artists whose works are present on the exhibit as brave and who won’t compromise on showing their ideas to the public as they consider their artwork as an eye opener, or a simple statement on what is really happening. I would recommend this to the youth of the present who like me, weren’t born yet during that time. It is a guide and a reminder.

Indeed, even on this present day, revolutionary art is the one of vehicle or a form which political, social and cultural incidents could be viewed. Finally, this reunion of old artworks plays a vital role in supporting national identity by providing us a visual presentation of what had been, thus bringing us back to our roots. Here, the organizer collects artworks which clearly depict first hand stories of featured artists under the martial law and make these speak for itself.

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