“Mountains that hug the earth, skies that are open, and clouds that float”—these are the words that Philippine Art Gallery owner Lyd Arguilla used to describe the watercolors of Leon Pacunayen. After moving to the Italian city of Perugia in the 1960s, the artist could be very well be the underappreciated thread by which contemporary Filipino art is connected today. Pacunayen’s moody, atmospheric approach to painting, and his somber palette adopts the technical lineage of sfumato and chiaroscuro is widespread in the creations of many modern artists.
More cross-cultural art:
Pacunayen is the jumping point in Living Earth: Contemporary Philippine Art, Pintô International’s upcoming exhibit in Italy. The show, which features 25 contemporary Filipino artists, bridges the intertwined histories of the Philippines and Italia. Working with themes revolving homeland, migration, and identity, the exhibition will be on view from May 6 to 12 at Milan’s cultural organization MAC.
Among its many highlights is Mother (1999) by Mark Justiniani, who is currently representing the Philippines at the Venice Biennale. Hazy, yet phosphorescent, Justiniani’s painting imagines a dream-like space not unlike Pacunayen’s. This example of Justiniani's early work is echoed by the pieces of Elmer Borlongan and Emmanuel Garibay. These artists initiated the movement of social-realism in the late 1980s, after the fall of the Marcos regime. Their work is juxtaposed against paintings by Manuel Ocampo, the 2017 Venice Biennale rep and one of the most critically acclaimed Filipino artists internationally as well as Rodal Tapaya, whose works emphasize a sense of transformation and transportation through magical realism. Ateneo Art Award recipient Johanna Helmuth’s figurative scenes are arresting depictions of everyday life while Jayson Oliveria pioneers a gestural approach that purposefully eschews perfection. These artists, along with the others included in the exhibition, create a cross-generational dialogue.
The exhibition is co-curated by Luca Beatrice, curator of the 2009 Italian Pavilion of the Biennale di Venezia, and Patrick D. Flores, artistic director for the forthcoming 2019 Singapore Biennale. He also curated the 2015 Philippine Pavilion of the Biennale di Venezia.
Click on this slideshow to view the works being given the spotlight in Milan:
Leon Pacunayen’s Anaheim III
Leon Pacunayen’sPaesaggio del Lazio
Leon Pacunayen’s Palm Spring II
Elmer Borlongan’s Hilot
Manuel Ocampo’s A Filipino Artist in Italy circa 1985
Rodel Tapaya’s Mr. Wolf
Raffy Napay’s Living Here 2
Andres Barrioquinto’s The Death of a Disco Dancer
Emmanuel Garibay’s Lakbay
Johanna Helmuth’s Whatever it Takes
Ronson Culibrina’s Rainbow Spill 2
Jayson Oliveria’s The Reverse is Also True
Dexter Sy’s East and West
Winner Jumalon’s Sueno
Zean Cabangis’s I Don’t Think I’ll be Here Too Long II
Mark Andy Garcia’s The Wind Blows
John Marin’s Children by the Ocean 1
Dale Erispe’s Haze
Igan D’Bayan’s Exquisite Toxins
Jayson Cortez’s Home Under the Same Sky
Jim Orencio’s Arboretum’s Foliage of Philippine Native Plants
Lee Paje’s Converging Paths, Diverging Ways
Renz Baluyot’s Dreaming of Odyssey 2
Keb Cerda’s First Date 2
Gabi Nazareno’s Unending Undulation
Olan Ventura’s Middle Ground 2
Mark Justiniani’s Nanay
For more information, visit pintoart.org.