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Water world

LITTLE Girl Catching Tadpoles by Kizel Cotiw-an

CHILDHOOD memories of playing near water, repurposing discarded materials, capturing an element at its specific state, and taking inspiration from real events are a few of the stories behind the European Union (EU) in the Philippines’ latest art exhibition relating to the importance of water.

In celebration of the founding of the European Union (EU), an exhibition, “Ebb and Flow: Return to Nature,” is on view at the Yuchengco Museum at RCBC Plaza. It features paintings, prints, photography, and sculptures by European and Filipino artists.

The narratives of the artworks show the beauty of water, its importance, and what happens when water and the life that it sustains are nurtured or are ruined.

EU Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Véron said that the title of the exhibition is an invitation to meditation.

“An invitation to meditate on life. No life without water. Yet, as we, sailors, know very well, water is indomitable. Our planet is blue, yet man cannot conquer the ocean. We are just its humble servants,” Mr. Véron said at the exhibition opening on May 19.

In a press release, exhibit curator César Caballero described the exhibition as a gathering of artists “maintaining connections on vital and important questions for life and the transcendental co-existence of the identity of communities and their individuals.”

The exhibition features works by Kizel Cotiw-an (Philippines), Ramon and Romania Diaz (Philippines and Italy), Louis Dumont (Belgium), Henri Etéve (France), Jeanette Kamphuis (Sweden), Radha Makitalo (Finland), Fara Manuel Nolasco (Philippines), Ann Pamintuan (Philippines), René Reitier (Germany), and Viviana Riccelli (Italy).

Filipino artist Kizel Cotiw-an’s paintings, Little Girl Catching Tadpoles and The Water Spirit, take inspiration from her childhood growing up in Benguet, and folklore on the spirits of nature, respectively.

“Without water, all of these beings will perish,” Ms. Cotiw-an wrote on her work’s description.

Filipino artist and professor Fara Manuel Nolasco’s twin paintings depict the ocean shaped as a woman’s torso — one seemingly cleaner as seen through its bright colors, and the other’s dark hues suggesting a polluted environment.

“In yoga philosophy, they say that ‘the universe is in you, you are the universe.’ In the same way the ocean is a huge part of your personhood, and by not protecting the ocean, you are doing yourself harm,” Ms. Nolasco said during a walkthrough of the exhibit.

For Swedish artist Jeanette Kamphuis, her series of jellyfish paintings were inspired by a visit to Manila Ocean Park where she was reminded of the interaction of families.

“The day I visited… Manila was hot and windy. The streets were crowded. I could see parents protecting their children,” Ms. Kamphuis wrote of her work.

German artist René Reitier presents a series of six photographs of water droplets and attempts to make mist visible. “Mist is water in its finest shape… The light breaks in each individual of these small water droplets so that the view becomes impenetrable,” he wrote of his work. “A camera setting that applies a light separation according to the type of isohelie and edge lift through the Sabbating effect, makes the finest color and brightness differences of the mist visible,” he explained.

Known for his brilliantly colored works of marine life and seascapes, Filipino artist Ramon Diaz takes on a different medium by creating a sculpture from a discarded sailboat. Being a member of the Manila Yacht Club, he carved shapes onto an old boat from the yacht club which supposedly chopped to be used as firewood.

The two pieces of the old sailboat feature carvings of the sun and moon, and the earth surrounded by dark hues.

“Ebb and Flow” is part of the Viva Europa 2022 cultural festival, which aims to highlight shared European cultural heritage with Filipinos. It also coincides with the EU Green Week (which runs from May 30 to June 5) and the lead-up to the UN Ocean’s Conference in Lisbon scheduled from June 27 to July 1.

The exhibition is an initiative of the Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines and the Yuchengco Museum, the embassies of Belgium, Germany, Spain (together with Instituto Cervantes Manila), France (together with Alliance Francaise de Manille), Italy (together with the Philippine Italian Association and Galleria Duemila), Finland, and Sweden, and artists from the University of the Philippines, Baguio City.

“Ebb and Flow” runs until May 31 at the Ground Floor of the Yuchengco Museum, RCBC Plaza in Makati City. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman