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Transcendent portraits and poetry

 
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 5:04 pm    Post subject: Transcendent portraits and poetry Reply with quote

Transcendent portraits and poetry
KRIPOTKIN By Alfred A. Yuson Updated March 23, 2009 12:00 AM
http://www.philstar.com/Articl.....egoryId=79

It may be recalled that in conjunction with the milestone seven-museum exhibit of Amorsolo’s works that started last year, a coffee-table book produced by ArtpostAsia served to catalogue the multiple exhibits.

Sylvia Amorsolo-Lazo and Delfin Amorsolo, two of the Maestro’s scions, recently guested on my TV talk show on the GNN Channel, and they were both quite excited about this new book. Herself an artist and educator, Sylvia promised an intriguing book cover that will only be unveiled at the launch.

An architect, Delfin (or “Tonts” as he’s been nicknamed by us fellow Bedans) was visiting from California. A delay in the book production will make him miss the launch, as he had to return to the US last week. He’s done the next best thing, which is to ask his former classmates to make up for his absence by attending the event en masse.

This should be quite an eye-opener of a book on Amorsolo, as the authors are his heirs, who reminisce on how it was to have grown up with a great artist for a father. Vintage black-and-white photographs showing the Maestro at work, entertaining dignitaries, traveling abroad, or having quality time at home with family will be seen by the public for the first time.

These are joined by full-color photos of masterpieces kept by his heirs, together with works from private collections. Two of the major collectors of Amorsolos have been Joselito Campos, chair of the Bonifacio Art foundation, and the young Mikee Romero who runs Harbour Center.

It seems the latter, who’s been high-profile of late as a sports patron, isn’t only getting off on his support for basketball teams. In a relatively short period, he has reportedly amassed quite a treasure trove of Amorsolos — at least 30 works, or so I’ve heard. Some of these are being featured in the book.

On Thursday, March 26, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, H.E. Robert G. Brinks, together with the Mangyan Heritage Center and the Ayala Museum, will host a reception to launch Mangyan Heritage Week, as well as to honor the scholar and author Antoon Postma’s contribution to Philippine culture. The event starts at 6 p.m. at the ground floor lobby of the Ayala Museum.

Per the invite we received from Tatine G. Faylona, the Dutch embassy’s political and cultural affairs officer, “It will be a Mangyan Happening, as well as a beautiful and touching occasion. Guests will be treated to chanting and music, video shows, carving of ambahans in Mangyan script, photographs, and the opportunity to write their names in the ancient syllabary script and to buy crafts.”

The ambahan is the seven-syllable verse written by the Mangyans of Mindoro, often about the objects of their affection and longing. These poetic expressions are carved on the barks of trees or inscribed on bamboo strips, using the Mangyan syllabary.

Antoon Postma, a Dutch anthropologist and former missionary, has lived with the Hanunoo Mangyans for half a century. In 1972, Arnoldus Press published Treasure of a Minority: The Ambahan, a collection translated by Postma into English.

In his introduction to the book, Postma listed the following elements as essential features of the ambahan: “a set of poetic expressions with a measured rhyme of seven-syllable lines (and) having rhyming end-syllables; vocalized as a chant without a determined melody or too much melodic variation, and without the accompaniment of musical instruments; recited for the purpose of verbalizing in a metaphorical way certain human situations or characteristics, with the possible challenge of a matching answer in dialogue-fashion, and (conducted) in the presence of an interested audience...”

Here’s one ambahan as translated by Postma: “At this hour of the dark night/ we are still together now/ on the woven sleeping-mat./ But when the sun will get up/ and the stars will be detached,/ our bond might break up too./ When we’ll ever meet again,/ it is not with mortal eyes,/ But the eye-sight of the soul.”

Postma has authored many other books and edited the oldest Spanish-Tagalog dictionary. He is also credited for the breakthrough translation of the Laguna Copperplate Inscription (circa 900 A.D.) in 1990, which he continues to rework.

The man called “Bapa” or “Uncle” by the Hanunoo gave up his ministry and married into the tribe. A remarkable video docu on Postma and the family he has raised with his wife Marta was aired early last year on GMA-7, titled Ang Alamat ng Puting Mangyan (The Myth of the White Mangyan). This was courtesy of the outstanding videographers Howie Severino and Egay Navarro.

The last time we met up with “Bapa” Antoon was in 2002, when he obliged our request to deliver a paper on the ambahan for the Asia-Pacific Conference-Workshop on Contemporary and Indigenous Poetry. He brought some of the Hanunoo to perform with him at Ateneo’s Escaler Hall. We look forward to seeing them again, and joining in the appropriate tribute to the “White Mangyan” this Thursday.

Our attendance at Ayala Museum would have to be brief, however, as another engagement also having to do with poetry falls on the same evening. At Alliance Francaise de Manille on Nicanor Garcia St (formerly Reposo) in Makati, the annual Printemps des poetes reading starts at 7 p.m.

We observed the vernal equinox last weekend, with a texted poem-quote from Marj Evasco: “Love is a staple,/ Not strange but subtle,/ Something we touch and hear;/ Simple, eternal,/ A cast stone’s ripple/ In the ear.” — an excerpt from “Mom” Edith L. Tiempo’s “A Little Allegory.”

Indeed, “It’s that time of year again, Spring!” — when the Alliance Francaise hosts a night of wine and cheese and poetry as read or recited by diplomats and Filipino poets. Organized by Deanna Ongpin Recto, vice president of the AF board of directors, and Mickael Balcon, deputy director, this year’s reading features the theme “En rire” or “About Laughter,” with the following motto appearing in the invite: “Les gens qui ne rient jamais ne sont pas serieux” (“People who never laugh are not serious.”)

Due to pressure of work and occasional moon bathing, Marj won’t be able to join us. But guests can revel in readings to be rendered by National Artist for Literature Rio Alma (Virgilio S. Almario), Jimmy Abad, Ed Maranan, Frank Rivera, Marne Kilates, RayVi Sunico, Conchitina Cruz, Mookie Katigbak, Marc Gaba, Adam David and Maxine Syjuco. Frankie Llaguno’s “Sonnet to Laughter” in Shakespearean mode should be a special treat.

Over in Hong Kong, fast-rising Filipino painter Dominic Rubio celebrates his continuing ascent among the echelons of Southeast Asian visual artists who matter by forming part of a two-man show ongoing at the prestigious Karen Weber Gallery.

Billed as “Good Times, Bad Times,” the show pairs off the stylish oils of Rubio (of turn-of-the-century Asian street scenes) with acrylic abstractions by German painter Tina Buchholtz.

Located on the ground floor of 20 Aberdeen Street in Central, the Karen Weber Gallery specializes in contemporary fine art from emerging and established artists, while bidding to represent the taste of Hong Kong and international clients.

Year-round exhibitions introduce works by new artists from Southeast Asia, Australia and Europe, with many of these artists’ works settling in private and public collections worldwide. Among the artists presented of late were Xue Mo from China, Min Wae Aung from Burma, Karina Wisniewska from Switzerland, Rosi Helms from Australia, and our very own Noel de Guzman.

Now Dominic Rubio of Paete, Laguna, takes the spotlight, or half of it, fresh from the success of his internationally auctioned works and his last exhibit in November 2008 at Galerie Raphael in Serendra, The Fort in Taguig, titled “Asia 1900s.”

The notes on the current show, which lasts till the end of March, offer the following backgrounder on the artist who’s become a favorite of Manila Chinoy yuppies as well as Singaporean and Malaysian collectors:

“Recently, Filipino art works have been fetching high prices in international auctions, indicating that Philippine art is at long last taking its rightful place in the art world. This is certainly the case for Dominic Rubio. His works are inspired by the Philippines during the latter part of the Spanish and then the early American colonial period. Rubio’s concern is to capture the nostalgia and romanticism of these periods while giving them a modern sensibility and whimsical appeal.”

A large part of that appeal lies in Rubio’s stylistic delineation of decidedly Asian characters posing or ambling along in turn-of-the-century garb, set against a backdrop that is of a distinctively Asian setting, but thoroughly minimized.

His figures thus project themselves eminently in the foreground, all sharing the unique feature of oversized heads and faces set on thin, elongated necks, almost as if impaled on time or timelessness itself — indeed, as veritable portraits transcending any timeline.

Rubio’s “longnecks” were introduced in 2006, long after the artist had struggled through odd jobs as a commercial artist after graduating from the UST College of Fine Arts. He is not yet 40, but he has been painting for over two decades, since finding himself a surprise winner, while still in his teens, in an on-the-spot painting contest in Manila (with an abstract version of the “Mona Lisa”). He had joined that contest without benefit of any education in art, since at that time he was still in high school.

In the first group shows he joined, Rubio presented mostly paintings of forest landscapes, occasionally with ethnic figures. He has had his ups and downs as an artist, at one point severing his relations with galleries and going on a grand mope that lasted almost two years. But when he came back after that “long meditation and soul search,” it was with a refreshed vision — of the colonial past that served as sophisticated veneer for old Manila.

One-man shows sporting his newfound thematic specialty ensued, with much success, so that he was invited to join the Masterpiece auction in Singapore and the International Care Ministries auction in Hong Kong.

Now Dominic Rubio is on his way to the elite circle of young painters in the region who must evolve together with their linear or painterly mastery of a subject, motif, narrative — whatever it is that instantly spells a signature upon sight.
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TonyB



Joined: 05 Jan 2006
Posts: 178

PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dominic is a classmate in high school, LDP '89. I remember his occasional "luwas" when when he'd buy his art supplies, newwave music paraphernalia such as tapes and vinyls and t-shirts, and yes join art competitions. I also remember him winning and if my memory is correct, his early success was acknowledged by the school. I am happy to see him succeed and make a name for himself.

Keep up the good work!
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