By Dexter R. Matilla
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:05:00 08/30/2010
FOUR ARTISTS from Mindanao led by National Artist for Visual Arts Abdulmari Asia Imao—whose works showcase the many facets of the island’s culture and history—will be the featured collection for September at Brenart International, one of Belgium’s premier art galleries.
Titled “Tanaw Mindanao,” the exhibit hopes to introduce to the European public the beautiful aspect of Filipino royalty and mysticism that is uniquely Mindanao.
Imao, the first Asian to receive an arts grant from the New York Museum of Modern Art in 1963, expressed happiness “that Filipino Muslim artists are given another opportunity to present their talent and works in an international arena.”
Joel Geolamen, Rameer Tawasil, and Dr. Abdulmari Asia Imao
Sharing the exhibition floor with him are Joel Geolamen, Kublai Ponce-Millan and Rameer Tawasil.
Geolamen is a resident artist and the curator of The Gallery of Davao. Having trained under Rachel Holazo and Ben Bañez at the Ford Academy of the Arts in Davao City, Geolamen discovered a new visual strategy in photography etching. He will be bringing his collection of paintings highlighting the colorful headgears worn by Muslims.
Millan has given Mindanao most of its larger-than-life sculptures. Born in Cotabato but based in Davao, Millan’s works include all 100 sculptures in the four-hectare People’s Park; “The Durian” at the Davao International Airport; some 50 sculptures for the Bukidnon Overview Park; the huge Philippine Eagle perched on top of a tree trunk on Camus Street.
Kublai Ponce Millan
Equally impressive are the paintings of Tawasil, a Tausug-Zamboangeño painter known for his use of bright, strong and bold colors. The foundation of his art is the okkil, a design form indigenous to the Muslim groups of Mindanao as seen in their woodcarvings, brassware and textiles.
In 2006, he was given the Peace Award by the Peace Advocates Zamboanga for his rendition of the ‘Peace Dove’ logo, which has become a locally—and globally—recognized symbol.
The four artists are the first Filipinos to be featured in Brenart International, which features international and Belgian works of modern art, as well as objects of pre-Columbian and ancient Oriental and African art.
Imao hopes that the show will bring about a much-needed recognition of Mindanao art on the Philippine art scene, which is usually dominated by Manila-based artists.
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