Filipino artists make their mark on global art scene

Mye Mulingtapang, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 28 2019 07:12 AM

Filipino artists make their mark on global art scene 1
One of Ronald Ventura's masterworks exhibited at Primae Noctis Gallery in Switzerland. Photo courtesy of Primae Noctis Gallery

Filipino artists continue to gain renown internationally, with their works being showcased throughout Europe.

Ronald Ventura, who is considered the best paid Filipino contemporary artist, was in Switzerland last November 16 for a fourth solo exhibit presented by Primae Noctis and Primo Marella Gallery.

The eponymous solo show will run until January 10, 2020.

Ventura depicts mythological characters and religious imagery in his works. They represent how faith, tradition and the Catholic way affected not just how Filipinos live, but how crucially we think as well. His master paintings boast of hyperrealism combined with layers of visual and conceptual work.

Ventura's auction prices continue to skyrocket as he firmly establishes his reputation. In 2011, his work was sold for $1.1 million at Sotheby’s Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Paintings auction in Hong Kong.

He has received a lot of praises from local and international artistic institutions which also opened the opportunities for a lot of aspiring Filipino artists.


In their senior years, Lolita Valderrama Savage and Leon Pacunayen continue to bridge cultural gaps drawing a diverse global audience through their masterpieces.

“In cerca dei sogni – In search of dreams”, the new exhibition by Savage, ran from October 1 to 17 at Palazzo Bastogi in Florence. The exhibition showcased a selection of drawings and oil paintings, in which Savage narrated her longstanding affection for Tuscany – where her artistic education and career mainly took place.

Born in the Philippines, Savage received her degree in Bachelor of Fine Arts in Manila, then she completed her art education in Florence, Italy. Here she was guided by Silvio Loffredo, professor of the Accademia di Belle Arti.

The exhibition at Palazzo Bastogi, headquarters of the Consiglio regionale of Tuscany, shows the “notes” Savage took during her artistic journey. Sunsets, landscapes, glimpses of plants, and country villas are depicted on paper or canvas as vivid memories or quick impressions. Some of the exhibited artworks share a realistic language and marked brush strokes, while others are characterized by an open composition and softer and lighter lines, highlighting Savage’s emotions and sensitivity.

Being away from the Philippines for 40 years, Savage has adapted to Italy’s modern and contemporary art scene after honing her skills in one of the oldest and famous art schools in Europe.

“Many people from all parts of the world come to Tuscany whether for art, history, culture, romance, in search of fulfillment of their intellectual and human interests and desires. Many of my dreams as an artist have been fulfilled in this region,” said Savage.

She also shared how migration helped shape the way artists think and paint.

“We can learn from Italy that our minds should be open to modern art. The Italians seem to have a natural inclination to creativity, thanks to their long history of artistic and cultural development. However, we must safeguard the treasures that we have inherited in the past.”


Another artist who contributes to the diversity and enrichment of Philippine and Italian art is 85-year-old Pacunayen.

Pacunayen graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Santo Tomas in 1957. A master watercolorist, he took up advance studies in painting, etching, and restoration at the Regge Accademia di Belli Arti at Ornamentale di San Giacomo in Italy.

He held his first solo show at the PAG in 1959. He had numerous solo exhibits at the Luz Gallery, the Museum of Philippine Art, and in many galleries in Italy. Among his First Prizes were the AAP annual art competition in 1959 and the Primo Concorso Internazionale di Pittura Mazzanon Romano, Italy in 1966. Some of his Gold Medals were Premio Montecompatr in 1967 and Premio Republica di San Marino in 1968.

A select group of Filipino contemporary artists was invited to celebrate the figure of Pacunayen, who is based in Perugia. The exhibition juxtaposes a curated selection of Pacunayen's work with contemporary pieces of more than 25 Philippine-based artists.

Pintô International’s exhibition in Milan last May acknowledges Pacunayen’s artistic contributions and seeks to reveal the lingering conversation between him and Philippine contemporary art. This encompasses many territories both within and beyond the Philippine national border and brings to light the pervading global influence of the Italianate artistic technique.

Pacunayen was elated to share his precious artworks and become part of a historical art exhibition.

"Natutuwa ako na may nakagusto sa aking mga trabaho at inorganize nila para isama ako sa Filipino group show dito sa first sa Italy," said Pacunayen.

Art patron Dr. Joven Cuanang, owner of Pintô Art Museum and one of the crucial personalities in developing the art scene in the Philippines, believes that the artistic culture is very active in the country and is probably one of the most robust in Southeast Asia.

“We feel that this is a very strong and very powerful message of you know talking to other peoples in terms of our commonalities and our strengths so that in the end the dialogue will be very positive in terms of us coming together as one people,” said Cuanang.

Together with fellow doctor and Pintô International co-founder Dr. Luca Parolari, Cuanang put together a conversation between Pacunayen and several artists to give context to Philippine contemporary art.

With the help of people like Cuanang and Parolari, Philippine art now finds its place in the contemporary global art scene.