An oft discussed tidbit on the Pinto Art Museum is the one placing the exhibition space as, according to ArtNet, among the most Instagrammable museums in the world. One would be better served not to take this feat lightly. So popular, in fact, has the Antipolo art haven become that it is hard not to navigate museum premises without crashing someone else’s “photo shoot.”
But tiny inconveniences do not a bad experience make. The museum was, after all, founded on a principle that tasks art to unite “nationalities, worldviews, and communities.” That images and the good word of Pinto Art have convinced so many into visiting these sprawling galleries is, by itself, indicative of immeasurable success.
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Pinto Art did not initially endeavor to achieve the popularity it relishes today. Instead, the goal has always been to support Filipino creativity and artistic exploration. After the overthrow of the Marcos regime, museum founder Dr. Joven Cuanang, a neurologist by trade, began supporting the now legendary art collective, Salingpusa, through continuous acquisitions and by hosting their hangouts and art making in his Antipolo property. Over time, the resolute Cuanang became more entrenched in the art world, gaining a reputation as one of its most generous supporters.
In 2010, Pinto Art Museum formally opened its doors. Today, its galleries include works from the art world’s luminaries, such as Elmer Borlongan, Mark Justiniani, Jose John Santos III, Emmanuel Garibay, Rodel Tapaya, Geraldine Javier, Marina Cruz, Joy Mallari and Antonio Leaño, among many others.
As it happens, heading into 2020, the museum has an entirely new wing’s worth of art and installations for visitors to experience. Pinto’s Gallery 7 opened to the public in January 2 featuring works from the museum’s permanent collection.
Among the many striking pieces in the new 1,200-square-meter wing is Reen Barrera’s “Ohlala Twin,” a towering 11-foot work of wood, resin, and cloth. Then there is conceptual artist Nilo Ilarde’s die-cast car installation, which was initially displayed at Art Fair Philippines in 2018. Consisting of over 20,000 die-cast cars, the piece calls to mind not only EDSA in any given day but the compulsion of humans to create.
Sam Penaso’s “Hypebeast,” a work of acrylic on canvas, is also on display at the new space. The piece is an arresting depiction of human anatomy strewn with animals, vehicles, and popular symbols. Then, Raffy Napay’s sensual rendering of a “Blood Flower / Red Rose” is a captivating piece rendered with thread on canvas. “Goodbye Old Self,” from artist Lui Manalig, depicts two faceless men in a field engaged in a violent altercation.
In Julius Redillas’s “Fifth Person,” one sees a dreary expression in a cipher-like character. Finally, Joji Solano’s “Ochenta” pays tribute to Joven Cuanang, who turned 80 last December.
There are plenty of other works in the gallery left for one to survey, even participate in. In fact, an interactive work from John Santos III is under construction as of this writing. The forthcoming installation is but one of an abundance of reasons to make the hike up to Antipolo. One could go at length about the vastness of the Pinto compound’s beauty, the variety of the flora and fauna, the trove of artistic treasures present. But just imagining this list of attractions—and seeing the pictures here—won’t compare to actually making the trip to the museum and experiencing it for yourself.
For more on Pinto Art Museum, visit PintoArt.org/museum.
Photographs by Chris Clemente