BREATHTAKING landscapes and personal encounters in Palawan take focus on the Metropolitan Museum of Manila’s latest exhibit, In Harmony with Nature.

Done in partnership with the Bank of China and the Chinese Culture and Art Association Limited, the Metropolitan Museum of Manila launched the exhibit on Sept. 28 as part of its international arts and cultural exchange program for artists from China and the Philippines.

The project seeks “to cultivate fresh artistic encounters, current dialogues on environmental awareness, and enhanced understanding of cultural perspectives” and “cross-cultural linkages between China and the Philippines and the cultivation of new artistic encounters in respective unique locations,” a press release said.

Five artists were shortlisted for both countries. Participating artists from the Philippines are: painter, sculptor, and illustrator Manuel Baldemor; abstract painters Rico Lascano and Noberto Carating; painter Phyllis Zaballero; and watercolorist Jonahmar Salvosa; the Chinese artists are calligraphy artists and painters Kuku Chai Bukuk and Cai Zhixin; painter Ding Jie and Liu She; and printmaker Hao Ping.

“The Chinese artists were already chosen,” Metropolitan Museum of Manila president Tina Colayco told BusinessWorld about the shortlisting of Filpino artists, during the exchange program’s press launch in August.

“We just thought that we would do a match with artists who would have similar synergies,” she added, noting that all participating artists are established names in the art scene in their respective countries. For the Philippine leg of the exchange program, the 10 artists visited El Nido, Palawan in September to collect inspirations for their artworks.

Exhibit curator Desi Tolentino explained that Palawan has been “one of the ancient trade routes between the Philippines and China since the earlier centuries” prior to the colonization period.

The artworks include Manuel Baldemor’s landscapes (Early Birds) and marine life (Underwater World); Rico Lascano tranquil abstracts (Spatium Divinae); Norberto Carating’s bold colored abstracts painted with pumice gel, Tumauini #1; Jonahmar Salvosa’s cool-toned landscapes, Inherited Blessings, Dorocoy, My Island Happiness, and Bantilan, My Childhood Playground; Phyllis Zaballero’s nighttime landscape, Fireflies in the Iwahig River, and a bright beach painting, Crab; and Bukuk Chai’s Sea Turtle which shows a baby sea turtle with its tiny head above water.

After the exhibit walk-through, Ms. Tolentino told BusinessWorld that the activities aim to “create a more important dialogue on environmental awareness and ecological consciousness both in China and in the Philippines.”

The exhibition opening concluded with a live collaborative painting between the Filipino and Chinese artists. They created a seascape of Palawan with a shoreline and overlooking mountain ranges.

After the exhibition in Manila, the 10 artists will go to Shenzhen, China on Oct. 20 to visit the city of Liling which is known for its traditional porcelain-making. They will take a tour to get inspiration for their paintings which will be shown in the upcoming counterpart exhibit in Art Wharf Gallery in Shenzhen, China on Oct. 26. A collaborative painting demonstration with the Chinese artists will also be held on the exhibition opening.

In Harmony with Nature is on view until Oct. 30 at the Bangko Sentral Gallery of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Roxas Blvd., Malate, Manila. Museum doors open at 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. from Monday through Saturdays; admission is free on Tuesdays. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman