Visayan art takes the limelight
There is no other sector that can better inspire and articulate optimism than artists.
As the Philippines continues to grapple with an ongoing pandemic, raging typhoons, and other calamities, industries have been pushed to either adapt or close their doors—the art world is no exemption. But amid the challenging times, humanity and the arts persist, even rising above the occasion. In the local art scene, Visayan artists took the spotlight to tell their own unique stories of hope, courage, and redemption, through Shell’s “Virtual Art Interact” recently held earlier this November.
The third leg of Virtual Art Interact revolved around the Visayan region. Shell had launched the online workshop series in line with the 53rd National Students Art Competition (NSAC). Breaking away from the conventional art symposia, put on hold by the lockdowns, the art classes explores various communities of artists from the various regions of the country. It empowers these artists to narrate their struggles and victories through visual storytelling. Luzon was on the center stage on Oct. 3, while Mindanao on the 17th of the same month.
Fringe Manila’s creative director, Andrei Paminutan, hosted the program that featured a live sketching demonstration by artists and students. Country social performance and investment manager of Pilipinas Shell, Sankie Simbulan, threw light on the reason for this journey. “It is important for us to expand outside the local art periphery. Virtual Art Interact was a chance for us to show people that there is so much more to the Philippine creative scene by featuring various artists across the country,” she explains.
As the longest-running student art competition in the country, the NSAC has been cultivating the next generation of Filipino artists, curators, and collectors. By engaging these creatives, it supports and empowers the community to uplift more people through their gifts.
‘There is no other sector that can better inspire and articulate optimism than artists.’
Visayas has birthed prolific artists such as Cebuano painter Martino Abellana, Boholano mixed media artist Henri Cainglet, and Negrense abstract expressionist artist Alfonso Ossorio, among others. Despite the exhibitions that have made their way in Luzon, there are untapped artists yet to be discovered by wider audiences.
“Growing up, we didn’t have much access to art references or local libraries that carry art books. I had to learn and take inspiration from my communities and our history,” muses Negros Occidental-based Ginoe, who was one of the featured artists at the event. Ginoe hails from Silay, and is a visual artist, programming director, and community manager at the House of Frida, a contemporary art gallery in Bacolod that aims to promote budding artists from the city.
Though pristine beaches and delectable cuisine are the first things that come to mind when mentioning Negros, Silay is actually considered the seat of arts, culture, and ecotourism in the island region. “Silay is a very historic town with so many ancestral houses, featuring pieces from across the world—be it China, Europe, or Japan. It’s an inspiring place for artists because it gives you a taste of early globalization, but there’s enough nature to keep you feeling calm and relaxed,” beams Ginoe.
The significance of platforms such as NSAC and Virtual Art Interact has never been more prominent. At a time when the health crisis is keeping people at home, art is the underlying thread that holds communities together.
“Maraming paghihirap na nagaganap at mga bagong storya ngayong pandemya, at kinekwento ito ng mga artists (There are a lot of struggles and stories born out of this pandemic, and creatives have been expressing these feelings through art),” explains Bayani Galera, a renowned installation artist and an NSAC alumnus with roots in Bohol.
“Ngayon na online na lahat, binuksan ng pandemic yung four walls ng galleries at lumaki ang audience. Mas marami nang nakaka-appreciate ng art—music, paintings, or theater man ‘yan. (With everything now online, the pandemic also broke down the four walls of galleries and widened our audience. More people can appreciate art—whether it’s music, paintings, or theater),” Bayani futhers.
“There is no other sector that can better inspire and articulate optimism than artists. And Pilipinas Shell will continue to nurture them so that they may spark the ideas the people need for a brighter future,” Sankie says, affirming the role of art in these trying times.
At present, the NSAC has received 1,300 entries, and the official awards ceremony is set to take place on November 27. For more information, keep posted on Shell Philippines’ social media accounts.