Ruminations (that lead to more questions)
BY ANGEL SHAW
All knowledge has its origins in our perceptions.
~ Leonardo da Vinci
Selected Exhibition Titles: Rain Sadden Days. Chair I. One. Summits I. Thought Process. Breeder’s Dream. Golden Cross. Blood Moon #1. Studies for the Demigods in the Altar of Lumawig 1. The Voices of Siquijor. A Contraction of Sticks 4. Addicted to Thoughts 3. From the Morning Mantra Series III. Father’s Concern.
The artists represented in Galleria Duemila’s 2018 Art Fair booth—Alfredo Aquilizan, Joe Bautista, Edwin Coscolluela, Sacha Cotture, Monica Delgado, Isabel Diaz, Rock Drilon, Hadrian Mendoza, Goldie Poblador, Viviana Riccelli, Tony Twigg, Trek Valdizno, Nestor Vinluan, and Jun Yee—reflect an eclectic range of sensibilities, creative practices and processes. Each artist bears a unique signature of aesthetics. Some depart from their earlier works while others, create in a continuum. Their artistic visions complement and intersect with Silvana Ancellotti-Diaz, founder and artistic director of Galleria Duemila’s vision.
Can a contemporary commercial art gallery be both mainstream and alternative?
There are very real differences between curating exhibitions for mainstream and alternative museums, not-for-profit, artist-run and public art spaces, commercial galleries and other venues like art fairs.
Can these exhibited artworks inherently address the gallery’s attempt to merge the practice of art with the business of art while genuinely respecting both?
It is difficult to visibly reveal the curatorial decision-making process. Yet, to dispel the misperception that the practice of art and the business of art are synonymous, the curator in collaboration with the art director must make deliberate choices in selecting the artists, their artworks and how to arrange them within a temporary traditional art fair space that is solely designed for commercial purposes. After all is said and done, the gallery must stand firmly behind their artists and continue to support them beyond such events.
Each artwork has a self-contained narrative within a larger exhibition narrative that is in tandem with Silvana’s passionate commitment to celebrate the confluences of multiple modernities and not a singular western perception of “contemporary art”. What remains tricky, however, is creating a balance between such perceptions, assumptions, and viewers’ burgeoning or cultured tastes. There is an interconnectivity between the works and the artists who span generations reflective of Silvana’s astute vision to name her gallery, Galleria Duemila which means “20th Century” in 1975. She was the future even before it arrived.
The main objective of selecting this year’s repertoire is to call into question perceptions and misconceptions about “abstract” art, expanding its definitions beyond stereotypes of the artists’ practices, their intentions, and meanings of the works within and outside of their control.
What goes through viewers’ minds when they linger in front of a piece of artwork or move quickly on to another? Are they attracted to the work’s form? Composition? The medium? Aesthetics? Content? The artist’s name? Curiosity? Identification? Emotions?
Like faith itself, a long pause before an artwork is personal to the viewer. These questions cannot be answered concretely, nor will they solicit the same responses. Nonetheless, they are the questions that went through this independent multi-disciplinary curator’s mind when selecting works for this year’s art fair.
The challenge to attract viewers to pause, look closely, read and digest each work was paramount, given the numbers of people and diversity of audiences’ knowledge and interest in contemporary art as the attendees of the Philippine Art Fair grow each year.
Perhaps it is all of these qualities that strike in/explicable cords within the viewer, the artist and the gallerist that draws all parties together to participate in the creation, interaction with and selling of art.
— Angel Velasco Shaw, 2018
Angel Velasco Shaw is a media artist, educator, curator, and cultural organizer living in Manila and New York City. Her documentaries have screened in American, European, and Asian film festivals, museums, galleries, and schools. They are in the film collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Cinematheque Suisse Schweizer Filmarchiv, Casa Asia, and the Museum of Modern Art. She is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Arts and Sciences/Communication Arts Department, and the Founding Director of the Institute for Heritage, Culture and the Arts at Philippine Women’s University. She has curated and produced several visual art and film exhibitions, and cross-cultural exchange projects such as, The Inverted Telescope, Markets of Resistance, Women as (Mythical) Hero and Provocations: Philippine Documentary Photography (co-curated with Neal Oshima). Shaw co-edited the anthology Vestiges of War: The Philippine-American War and the Aftermath of An Imperial Dream: 1899-1999 with Luis H. Francia (New York University Press, 2002) and self-published Silent Stories (1985).
Full set of works displayed during this exhibition is available upon request.