Exhibit focuses on entries created during pandemic

FOR Shell Pilipinas Corp.’s 57th National Students Art Competition (NSAC), the theme “‘Lika na, Likha pa ng Obra” encourages the youth to continue cultivating the arts to lead the country to a brighter tomorrow.

“Shell NSAC was born in 1951 from a simple and yet profound promise to make art more accessible, to empower young artists, and to contribute to nation-building … A lot of things have changed over the years, but that has remained constant,” Lorelie Quiambao-Osial, Shell Pilipinas’ president and chief executive officer, said at the launch of this year’s competition in the National Museum on Feb. 26.

She added that, since 2024 is also the corporation’s 110th anniversary, it is important to acknowledge how Shell has “witnessed the growth, the struggles, the pain, and the triumphs of our nation.”

“Throughout this journey, we’ve understood the power of art to move, to inspire, and to shape a brighter future,” Ms. Quiambao-Osial said.

Thus, the competition’s launch this year was accompanied by the opening of NSAC’s very first exhibit at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Manila.

Titled “Onwards and Upwards: Revelation on Filipino Resilience and Excellence Through Shell National Students Art Competition Artworks,” it features the winning artworks from 2020 to 2023.

Painter Renato Habulan, the curator of the exhibit, said that it is a necessary undertaking to document “a very significant era in our time.”

“The pandemic defined a certain period of our history where Filipinos were challenged to develop their talents in a time of uncertainty,” he told BusinessWorld. “There was a decline in young artists’ sources of inspiration.” As he toured visitors around the exhibit on its opening day, he noted how the 2020 and 2021 entries were mostly introspective and pandemic-related, with the subject matter slowly moving outward to society as a whole in 2023.

At the center of the exhibition hall is a timeline on the history of Shell NSAC, including its various winners over the years, serving as motivation for young artists.

Many of the student winners through the art tilt’s 57 years went on to earn great acclaim. Among them are Juvenal Sansó (3rd Prize, oil painting, 1951 Shell NSAC), Jose Joya (1st Prize, oil painting, 1952 Shell NSAC), National Artist Ang Kiukok (3rd Prize, oil painting, 1955 Shell NSAC), National Artist Benedicto “Bencab” Cabrera (2nd Prize, oil painting, 1962 Shell NSAC), Luis Yee, Jr. (Finalist, Sculpture Category, 1967 Shell NSAC), Ronald Ventura (1st Prize, Oil/Acrylic Category, 1990 Shell NSAC), Rodel Tapaya (1st Prize, Oil/Acrylic Category, 2001 Shell NSAC), and Leeroy New (2nd Prize, Sculpture Category, 2004 and 2006 Shell NSAC).

This year’s competition welcomes students’ works in the following categories: oil/acrylic, watercolor, sculpture, digital fine arts, and photography.

Applicants can submit their entries from Feb. 26 to Sept. 25. For more information on the contest mechanics, visit http://tinyurl.com/3zvhvpuh

“Onwards and Upwards: Revelation on Filipino Resilience and Excellence Through Shell National Students Art Competition Artworks” runs until Aug. 25 at the National Museum of Fine Arts’ Sandiganbayan Reception Hall, in Manila. — Brontë H. Lacsamana