After the holidays, some art to cleanse one’s palate

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WHILE THE recent holiday nearly bankrupted us as we splurged on gifts and food and travel abroad, let’s usher in the New Year with new experiences that don’t break the bank — unless you buy a piece of good art (which is an investment!). Here is a list of some of the galleries in the metro that offer good Filipino art — and entrance is free (or very nearly).


1335 Mabini

When we have a misogynist and bigoted President, artworks that champion women and feminism not only talk back to the current oppression, but enlighten everyone about the struggles that women face every day. The title of artist Nikki Luna’s solo exhibition called This is how to be a woman of the world is a direct quote from Duterte.

To raise awareness on the rights and plight of women and girls all over the world, Ms. Luna’s works feature the systematic violence — physical, emotional, and mental — that women experience.

For the exhibit, Ms. Luna cast women’s clothes in resin, “creating a wardrobe that tells the story of the violence done against them under regimes that traffic in abuse and misogyny. These vestments are a memorial to the way they have responded and resisted, a statement stripped of its fashion to lay bare the strength in vulnerability,” says an artist’s statement.

Among them are Senator Leila de Lima, who has been in detention since 2017, and has been the object of Mr. Duterte’s scorn; Judy M. Taguiwalo, who was arrested and tortured during Marcos’s Martial Law, was insulted by Senator Tito Sotto during a confirmation hearing in 2017 for being a single mother; Emma Sulkowicz, who lugged around a 50 lb. mattress around her university campus as an act of protest after being raped in her dorm; and Charlie Jean, a pregnant 15-year-old who was killed by police during a raid.

As an activist, the artist conducts art therapy workshops in conflict zones in the Philippines. Ms. Luna said in a statement: “I believe that art is something that you can share. It feeds your soul.”

“Art is a powerful tool. Art can tell peoples’ stories, retell history, incorporating the voices from the margins and continue sharing art to engage, provoke action and to promote healing in communities… It never crossed my mind not to speak of the injustice from the thousands of EJKs [extrajudicial killings], rape culture, misogyny under this administration. I will continue to use my art to show the lives of the people wronged by the system,” she said.

The exhibit is on view until Jan. 19 at 1335 Mabini gallery at Unit C1B Karrivin Plaza, 2316 Chino Roces Ave Ext., Makati.


Alliance Francaise de Manille

Alliance Française de Manille, in partnership with Centre Intermondes and 1335 Mabini Gallery, presents Afterworld Obliteration, a solo art exhibition by artist Dexter Sy.

The Philippine Artist Residency Program 2017 winner has shaped his own style, combining Persian rugs, painting, and ink and pen drawings. In France, he created works evoking the violence and terrorism that can hit both France and the Philippines. There are cut-outs in the form of robots representing evil, as robots are often perceived in Asia as destructive beings. The drawn parts represent hell and the victims of violence and terrorism intertwined with graphics from the tradition of Indigenous Filipino groups. The use of the Persian rug echoes the significant presence of the Muslim community in the Philippines, which makes up more than 20% of the population. His works also make use of Christian symbolism as Christianity is major religion in the Philippines.

The exhibition opens on Jan. 17, 6:30 p.m., and will run until Feb. 23.


Areté gallery

Thirty-seven works make up this retrospective show which celebrates 25 years of Alfred Esquillo’s art. Curator Renato Habulan chose works that “highlights Esquillo’s every aesthetic milestone,” according to the Web site of the Ateneo de Manila University’s Areté gallery. “Apart from winning paintings from national and international competitions, the exhibit also features his creative experiments weaving two canvases into mat patterns, his appropriation and face cut-outs of archival photos using different media, and his tragicomedy series.”

The opening of this special exhibition last November coincided with the launch of Mr. Esquillo’s self-titled book that chronicles his struggles and triumphs both in life and art.

The exhibit is on view until Jan. 20 at the Alicia P. Lorenzo, Elizabeth Gokongwei, and Ambeth R. Ocampo Galleries at the 3/F Ateneo Art Gallery, Arts Wing, Areté, Ateneo de Manila Campus, Katipunan Ave., Quezon City.


Metropolitan Museum of Manila

Artist Wynn Wynn Ong, best known for her stunning jewelry, presents the gems of the Philippines in the exhibition called Sa Dagat at Bundok. As the title suggests, the exhibit highlights the Philippines’ diverse fauna and flora and the country’s endangered and newfound species.

The exhibit is on view until February at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila beside the Bangko Sentral, Roxas Blvd., Malate, Manila. The museum is open Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and the admission fees are P100 for adults and students and P80 for Senior citizens and persons with disability.


UP Vargas Museum

“Transpersonal” means the transcendence beyond the physical identity, which then means that the exhibition on view until Feb. 1 at the UP Vargas Museum talks about metaphysical boundaries. Discussions include spiritual experiences: near-death phenomena, nomophobia (the fear of being without your phone), and political isolation.

The exhibit was part of an “evolving transnational research project that engages with public lectures, exhibition making, education, sonic scores and publishing in contemporary art,” according to the museum’s Web site..

The participants in the exhibition are Filipino and foreign intellectuals, artists, and members of the academe: Merlinda Bobis, Patrick D. Flores, Eisa Jocson, The Karrabing Film Collective, Dana Klisanin, Leslie Kulesh, Andy Lacey, Russ Ligtas, Raquel de Loyola, Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Mark Salvatus, Evelyn Taocheng Wang, Oreet Ashery, Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen, and César H. Villanueva.

Transpersonal, instructions was curated by Dr. Stephen Wilson in conjunction with the University of the Philippines, Visiting Professor Program.

The UP Vargas Museum is in the University of the Philippines Diliman campus in Quezon City.