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Home 9 Articles 9 Unsung PH sculptures featured at newly curated Fatima University Gallery
Unsung PH sculptures featured at newly curated Fatima University Gallery
Unsung PH sculptures featured at newly curated Fatima University Gallery

By: Raymond Lumagsao

08/03/2023

By: Raymond Lumagsao

08/03/2023
Ribbon cutting at Fatima University Gallery with Dr. Caroline Marian Enriquez, President, Our Lady of Fatima University (OLFU); Mayoress Tiffany Gatchalian, City of Valenzuela; Robert Bjorn Santos, Director of Fatima University Gallery; Gerry Torres, Curator of Fatima University Gallery; and Pete Jimenez

Art is seen as a reflection of our thriving society. It is a boundless outlet of expression, a narrative in its own right and serves as seminal prints that determine and, in crucial times, define our history.

To demonstrate its ardent mission to become the cultural force in the region, Fatima University Gallery welcomed yet another successful opening last 21 July 2023.

Packed with notable guests, the opening ceremony of “In the Round: A Survey of Philippine Sculpture” was spearheaded by Dr. Caroline Marian Enriquez, President, Our Lady of Fatima University (OLFU); Mayoress Tiffany Gatchalian, City of Valenzuela; Robert Bjorn Santos, Director of Fatima University Gallery; Gerry Torres, Curator of Fatima University Gallery; and Pete Jimenez, a Quezon City-based sculptor whose works along with a documentary are also featured in the exhibit.

As a pilot attempt to examine the prominent array including their media, art delivery and interpretation, the newest Fatima University Gallery accentuates Philippine sculpture. In essence, the impressive art collection treasures the country’s dynamic culture in tangible format.

Leading the ensemble in the expanded display is Graciano Nepomuceno’s “Madre del Amor Divino,” a solid wood crafted in 1881 and was named after one of the titles of Mary.

According to Torres, University gallery curator, the over century-old piece “binds East and West” which is reminiscent of the artistic finesse of Michelangelo and Bernini “but the material is derived from the tropical forests, carved by the natives from the doctrine of the colonizer.”

Looking at the emotive movements of the art pieces in a room, one’s senses can be easily overwhelmed by the gapingly intricate creations. It turned out that this very concern was seriously considered by the gallery that it came up with an interesting visual aid – a line drawn on the walls – to help visitors, art enthusiast or not, deduce the connection of one piece to another.

“A line is drawn to connect the sculptures, one feeding into the next, the younger referencing the past. Some are mentors to others. New materials are explored and tested, old ones revived and innovated. Some remain committed to their choice, others combine. Advancements in materials and technology are applied, and in a potent platform like sculpture, immediately discerned,” as Torres described the effective surveying hack.

Ribbon cutting at Fatima University Gallery with Dr. Caroline Marian Enriquez, President, Our Lady of Fatima University (OLFU); Mayoress Tiffany Gatchalian, City of Valenzuela; Robert Bjorn Santos, Director of Fatima University Gallery; Gerry Torres, Curator of Fatima University Gallery; and Pete Jimenez

Sculpture as a misconstrued art form

While enjoying his glass of wine during the opening, “Master of Metal” Jimenez was gracious to grant us a candid interview. Known for his unparalleled scrap metal vision, he casually echoed his sentiments on people’s less to no appreciation of sculptures.

“Hanggang ngayon, kaunti lang ang nakaka-appreciate [To this day, only a few can appreciate (sculptures)],” he answered when asked on his documented view on people’s regard of the art form. “Dito sa Pilipinas, mas sanay ang collector na nagko-kolek ng two-dimensional like painting, prints and drawings — anything that you can hang on the wall. ‘Pag in the round, floor-piece objects, kaunti lang ang nakaka-appreciate [Here in the Philippines, collectors are more inclined to collect two-dimensional (art) like paintings, prints and drawings — anything that you can hang on the wall. When it comes to in-the-round, floor-piece objects, only a few can appreciate],” Jimenez further averred.

In the round sculptures are figures presented in a complete three-dimensional form and are not attached to a flat background. Jimenez later described the flawed orientation of the art form in the country.

“Ang mga tao ‘pag sculpture parang monument o parang mga objects na nakikita mo sa sementeryo. Ganun ang orientation, mababaw pa. So ‘pag nakakita ka ng tao na may sculpture collection, medyo high-end mag-isip ‘yun, mga malalim mag-isip. Ibig-sabihin, nakatawid na siya from two-dimensionality to three-dimensional art appreciation [Generally, people think of sculptures as monuments or those pieces one finds in cemeteries. That is the general orientation… still in the superficial phase. Hence, when someone has a sculpture collection, it shows that the owner is of a more sophisticated disposition, has a deeper understanding. It means the owner has transcended from two-dimensional to three-dimensional art appreciation],” the craftsman uttered as he continuously particularized the plight.

Breaking the dominant orientation

For the veteran artist whose original art form, in fact, was painting, he acknowledged that the shift to three-dimensional was risky. “But I like taking risks,” Jimenez asserted anyway.

“You need to expose people. Kagaya nito, ini-expose kayo ni Robbie Santos sa ganitong art, hindi lang ‘yung nakasabit kagaya ng mga paintings na mga collection niya, pero ito three-dimensional [You need to expose people. Like this, for instance, Robbie Santos exposed you to this art form — not just hanging art pieces in his collection, but these (art pieces) in three-dimensional form],” the UP Fine Arts alumnus suggested when asked on how learning institutions like OLFU can challenge the misleading impression on sculptures.

Jimenez could not be any more progressive as he rather welcomes immerging sculpting media than see it as a threat or a problematic force in the creative community.

“Okay lang ‘yun [That’s okay],” Jimenez stated on his personal take on ubiquitous mixed media art today. “Expression yun eh. Kunwari ako, gusto ko gumawa ng mga tansan, pwede naman yun [That’s expression. Take me, for instance, I want to create (something out of) metal caps… and that’s fine, too.]

“The bottom line of these things [is] it is what it is in your heart; ‘yung mai-express mo, through your art. Artist ako, nai-express ko ang heart ko through my art. Yung lang yun eh [The bottom line of these things is it is what is in your heart; that you are able to express through your art. I am an artist, (and) was able to express what is in my heart through my art. It’s that simple],” reiterated the visionary.

The ingenious Jimenez did not hesitate to unveil parts of his belief system behind his successful decades-long venture in art.

“It’s nice to be crazy. You have to be crazy in a good sense. For example, you have to be crazy as a student. ‘Wag ka mapapako dun sa libro. ‘Wag ka mapapako dun sa theory. You need to explore. Yun lang ang advice ko, you have to be crazy about anything that you do [It’s nice to be crazy. You have to be crazy in a good sense. For example, you have to be crazy as a student. Don’t let books immobilize you. Don’t let theories limit you. You need to explore. That’s my only advice — you have to be crazy about anything that you do],” passionately vocalizing his account.

“You should excel at what you’re doing, that’s the bottom line. You cannot excel at what you’re doing if you’re not crazy,” he added. “Do not think outside the box. You destroy the box,” Jimenez confidently declared as he revolutionized the famous quote.

Cultural immersion as a basic element in internationalization

Representatives of Ansan Haesol Elementary School from the Hallyu epicenter South Korea also graced the reopening of the gallery.

In a brief exchange during the packed launch, Seonsaengnim Emma could not hide her elation as they immersed themselves with the Philippine culture, rich and colorful at that.

“It’s fancier than I expected. I am enjoying the atmosphere [with] the wine and some food here,” the grade school foreign teacher excitedly shared.

“Actually, I heard that a lot of Filipinos are Catholic but I’m not. I can see some signs [looking] like a cross or a religious thing. I thought that this place is a great chance to experience Filipino culture,” expressed Emma citing her observation during the exclusive show.

“I expect to learn the culture [of] the Philippines. If Filipino students can join the Korean exchange program, they can also learn about Korea. We can bond together as a global citizen and share our history to widen our horizon,” she further stated.

Read more: Solidifying International Alliance: OLFU stages Grand IZN Event

More than meets the eye, the presentation was a perfect opportunity in cultivating international understanding deeply rooted from a cultural perspective.

Ribbon cutting at Fatima University Gallery with Dr. Caroline Marian Enriquez, President, Our Lady of Fatima University (OLFU); Mayoress Tiffany Gatchalian, City of Valenzuela; Robert Bjorn Santos, Director of Fatima University Gallery; Gerry Torres, Curator of Fatima University Gallery; and Pete Jimenez

Guests to expect more as they visit the gallery

Aside from three-dimensional works on display, the show now houses a catalogue of renowned creative heavyweights including magnum opuses of National Artist for Sculpture Napoleon Abueva and National Artists for Visual Arts Arturo Luz, Abdulmari Imao and Federico Aguilar Alcuaz.

Also offering yet another spectacle is the Staircase Gallery where the breathtaking collection of Europe’s oldest porcelain Meissen can be seen up close. An accessible historical background via QR scan packet is also available for visitors to understand its artistic development that dates back to the 18th century. The three-floor Fatima University Gallery opened its door to the public — both the OLFU community and outsiders — on 23 July 2023 and will run until 27 October 2023.