MANILA -- Visual artist Roberto Chabet was the first museum director of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). In 1970, he founded the CCP Thirteen Artists Awards as a curatorial project and having influenced a generation of artists, he has been considered the “Father of Philippine Conceptual Art.”
It’s thus a fitting tribute that after more than half a century, the CCP named the new gallery after him at the third floor of Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez or the CCP Black Box Theater.
“It’s just but right that the CCP Black Box is a space itself that is conceptual. The theater has been designed to cater to new works that are out-of-the-box and it is the same principle that the Bulwagang Roberto Chabet upholds,” Mauro Ariel Yonzon, associate artistic director and manager of the CCP Production and Exhibition Department, told ABS-CBN News.
Over the years, Chabet collaborated in other fields of art like ballet. When he passed on in 2013, some of his works, installation art and stage design, continued to be recreated as tribute to his contribution to the growth of Philippine art.
While the Tanghalang Pambansa or the CCP Main Building is undergoing renovation until 2025, Bulwagang Roberto Chabet or the CCP TIG Gallery, will serve as the center’s main exhibition hall and gallery, as announced during the official opening last May 16.
Its inaugural exhibition features the works of 37 printmakers titled “Space/Place,” which is open to the public until June 18.
“’Space/Place,' when translated to Filipino, is also embodied in ‘lunan,’ which refers to the exploration of space and identification of location, as well as references to a vessel in ‘lulanan’ (also, in Kapampangan) or ‘paglalagyan’, which concepts, the 37 prints on exhibit explored,” Yonzon said.
“This annual exhibit by the Association of Pinoy Printmakers is the most fitting occasion as a maiden exhibition at the Bulwagang Roberto Chabet of the Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez, the space having been named after the CCP's first museum director and founder of the Thirteen Artists Awards who also championed the CCP's collection of contemporary art pieces,” he added.
Among the artworks on display, we found a group of visitors huddled together discussing Kristen Cain’s “At What Cost: War Games, 1/1”, relief and collagraph on textile. On what looked like blue-tiled game board that depicts the sea, there are images of ships shaded in black and orange-reddish explosions. It is easy to deduce the reference to what’s going on in the West Philippine Sea.
Another that easily caught our attention was Angela Silva’s “Oath of Allegiance, 1/1”, screen print on cyanotype. It has old portraits of children and teenagers way back during the American Occupation. A bunch of young professionals before it would ask a lady in the group who these faces are and getting the answers they wanted to hear, would nod in agreement.
Next was a group of college students before Wesley Valenzuela’s “Final Entwine,” serigraphy and acrylic on paper. On the surface, it looks like a collage of faces, snakes, roses, fishes, hands, eyeballs, rib cages, stuff one might see in a psychedelic trip. We’ll leave the interpretation to experts.
Another that caught a group of young gallery-goers’ attention was Gabi Nazareno’s “Pockets of Peace,” relief (multi-colored rubbercut). It’s a four-framed illustration of what looked like a kitchen or study table, a man glued to his cellular phone with the moon as backdrop, a cat framed by images of more cats and fourth, an unkempt bed.
And these are just four of the 37 prints on display.
Visitors can meditate on the new works of Marz Aglipay, Leonardo Aguinaldo, Psalm Astejada, Jose Santos Ardivilla, Melai Arguzon, Diana Aviado, Virgilio “Pandy” Aviado, Luigi Azura, Mars Bugaon, Elmer Borlongan, Benjie Torado Cabrera, Jandy Carvajal, Salvador Ching, Joey Cobcobo, Salvador Convocar, Noell El Farol, Jess Flores, Annatha Lilo Gutierrez, Tish Hautea, Eugene Jarque, Villa Jefremovas, Carmel Lim Torres, Little Wing Luna, Angelo Magno, Hershey Malinis, Fara Manuel-Nolasco, Jamel Obnamia, Samm Occeno, KR Rodgers Jone Sibugan, Jun-Jun Sta. Ana, Suchin Teoh and Anton Villaruel.
“As its mandate, the CCP creates a balance between being in touch with Philippine art history and making space for contemporary methods of artmaking. We hope to accomplish and fortify that responsibility through Bulwagang Roberto Chabet,” said CCP president Margie Moran-Floirendo.
She added that the gallery would serve as artistic space for young artists with limited exposure as well as fresh and innovative ideas that artists and curators would like to explore through the CCP Visual Arts and Museum Division’s Exhibition Venue Grant program.
“We hope the new gallery will become a dynamic space to showcase works from the CCP 21AM collection, reframed and recontextualized to respond to the interests and concerns of a wider audience. The CCP has been encouraging explorations and innovations in artmaking and exhibition-making by providing not just space but also curatorial assistance,” said Moran-Floirendo.