Nune Alvarado’s “Tapangko” at Galerie Anna:



“Tapangko” is the table used in the Negros Occidental marketplaces where staples of food items are placed on display and sale. As such, it becomes the hub of all trade transactions, where vendors and sellers interact, and thus, thus exposing all manner of human behavior. The keen and observant eyes of Alvarado transform all these scenes stored in his memory into artworks of deep social perception and analysis.

A painting  graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman, the multi-awarded Alvarado has been an icon in the art scene since the Seventies. He made his mark with his originally stylized and powerful depictions of the seasonal sugar cane workers known as sacadas, who work the fields under the scorching sun, and under oppressive terms and conditions. Immersing himself in the lives of his own people allowed the artist to understand and sympathize with their plight.

Alvarado’s “Tapangko” series presents a lighter side of his sensibility, now focused on the humorous foibles of human nature.  This is instantly signaled by the delightful and witty titles he has ascribed to these works. The human images are explicit enough, though they have been largely subsumed by Alvarado’s  energetic activity of ornamental designs characterized by repetition of patterns and invention of geometric elaborations.  Working with a precision that takes command of the pen-and-ink medium, Alvarado is challenged by the task of organizing the welter of details in an audaciously decorative, but appealing, presentation. His skill at orchestrating  the multitude of these richly excessive diagrams is spell-binding.

To be sure, it is a relief for the viewer to see that, once in a while, Nune Alvarado does come up for air, taking relief from the seething aggression and dark shadows that dominate his iconic works. What is on display – on the “Tapangko” of these works – is Alvarado taking pleasure in capturing the lighter side of the Negros landscape, inviting us to the lively marketplace of his ever restless imagination.




Just exactly what is a piece of sculpture?

Of course, you do know what it is, (and it’s not just the statue of National Hero Jose Rizal in our town plazas!)  but here is one reply to the question you may not have heard of:

“A sculpture is what you bump into, as you back up to get a look at a painting.”

Beyond the un-intended caustic wit and humor of the statement, it reflects the real state of the art of sculpture: regarded as secondary in importance to painting, with the public’s lamentable lack of appreciation.

No less than National Artist Luz remarked on how, way back in the Sixties, he himself had “strayed” into the field of sculpture. Said Luz: “My sculptures are the logical extension of my paintings.” Indeed, he had predicted that “the next boom in Philippine art will be sculpture, and this was precisely the time when one day, I looked around suddenly realized that the Philippines had only two or three sculptors to speak of, which I find very strange. We have a tremendous amount of materials to speak of.”

Helping to realize the predicted boom in Philippine sculpture is the Galerie Anna-organized show at the SM Megamall Art Center. Titled “Tri-Angles,” the show presents the recent works of the country’s emerging and established sculptors.

“Tri-Angles” emphasizes the appreciation of materials as material, as these sculptures make use of the traditional processes of modeling, casting, carving, constructing, and assembling, as well as an intermingling of these techniques. As well, various themes and temperaments are embodied in these sculptures that all address humanist emotion.

In distinguishing our appreciation of sculpture versus that of painting, it is well to remember what the critic Max Kozloff said: “Sculpture is ultimately an independent, volumetric entity. It is tangible, occupies a fixed space, and is in a specific state of matter, facts from which every sculptor has been obliged to make his point of departure.”

-Cid Reyes, Art Critic and Curator


“Wind in the trees, thunder, flowing water, falling leaves, rain, animal voices --- we live amid a teeming polyphony of natural sounds. Add to these the sound of human activity, from soft footsteps to pneumatic drills, from muted conversation to pounding trains, from jetting fountains to jet planes. Then we have the articulate, measured, imagined sounds of art --- all the many kinds of music, which so specifically and directly convey the spirit of a people. Our world is permeated with sounds, some calming the heart and mind, some keeping us frenetic and on edge.” Thus, the spiritual writer Thomas Moore on the subject of “Noise and Silence.”

Cognizant of the assault and violation of our aural sense, and making a plea for the redeeming sound of silence, is the concept behind the show titled “Noise,” now  on view at Galerie Anna. Curated by Robert Besana, the works demonstrate in visual terms much of the anxiety and stress of modern life generated by the destruction of silence, when peace and quiet have been denied to the human spirit.

Indeed, we now have the phrase “white noise,” which is defined as “a constant background noise, especially one that drowns our other sounds. It could also mean “meaningless or distracting commotion, hubbub, or chatter.” For the more technically inclined, white noise is “a sound that contains every frequency within the range of human hearing (generally from 20 hertz to 30kHz) in equal amounts.”

 Interestingly, there is another variant phrase, “pink noise,” which is white noise “that has been filtered to reduce the volume of each octave.” Whether white or pink, and no matter the color, noise is simply nuisance: the blaring of the neighbor’s karaoke, the din of roaring vehicles poised for a road rage, or the raucous voices of politicians ringing in what are supposed to be the hallowed portals of the state. They are all, each one, “wounding sounds.”

Thomas Moore, once more: “Sound is one of the most direct and simple means we have at our disposal for enchanting life and caring for the soul. There is no reason why we could not tune our world, keep it at a pitch, and allow only the most forgiving dissonances. The soul would then be ready for joy and pleasure, and not be crimped into protective postures in absolute horror at the noise we allow to be characteristic of civilization.”

                                                                        -Cid Reyes

Conversations of the Birds

Galerie Anna proudly presents master colorist, multi-awarded, universal visual
artist Rodney P. Yap and his new collection CONVERSATIONS OF THE BIRDS from
October 19-November 2, 2016 wherein 15 works on canvas metaphorically narrate
stories of life and fanciful tête-à-têtes of living.
“This series convey a lot of things,” opens Yap. “It combines a show of faith,
metaphor and at some point satire; the birds in allusion to man present a different way
of looking at everyday experience and even behavior.”
The never-before-exhibited centerpiece “Negotiating the Betrothal of the Last
Princess; Ending Clan Wars,” was a finalist in the 2012 Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas
Tanaw Art competition. “Much of the conflicts and tensions not just in the country but in
the global sense could be resolved if men would set aside indifference, negotiate and
find a common or middle ground,” Yap explains.
The six 18x24in paintings flow in metaphors – images that leave to the spectator
his/her own conclusions about the slice of life. The dreamy “Mountains of the Great
Poet” is like a refuge – a haven to heal broken souls. The quadriptych “Conversations”
is like a gathering or assembly. “I remember from way back when I was still in
elementary school. The townsfolk described the way the tribes talked to each other;
dialect sounded like birds. From then till now, this painting is my homage to tribal gettogethers,”
Yap said.
“On the whole, I believe that like birds, life should be worry-free. Worry, though
part of life, is futile. And I based that on the Bible that says: That is why I tell you not to
worry about everyday life. Look at the birds.”
Bacolod-born Davao City-based Rodney Yap is an alumnus of the Ford Academy
of the Arts. From 2007 he has consistently been a Philippine Art Awards winner in both
Regional and National levels. He has exhibited in Poland, Germany, Brussels and
Rotterdam and has been featured in international art fairs and expos in Malaysia,
Singapore and Seoul. In 2013 he was long listed in the Artraker art for peace
competition and in 2015 he was one of the nine delegates for the Florence Biennale.
He is currently an Art Instructor at the Philippine Women’s College in Davao City.


“ “Embodied Meanings” at 2016 Manila Art


Galerie Anna presents “Embodied Meanings” at Manila Art 2016, with participating artists: Ricky Ambagan, Cezar Arro, Grandier Bella, Ferdie Cacnio, Jun Impas, Toti Cerda, Melvin Culaba, Ivy Floresca, Gerry Joquico, Vincent Padilla, Iggy Rodriguez and Glenn Cagandahan.

The phrase is derived from the American critic Arthur Danto, who himself was influenced by the philosophy of art of the German philosopher Hegel, who writes: “The work of art, as a sensuous object, is not merely for sensuous apprehension; its standing is of such a kind that, though sensuous, it is essentially at the same time for spiritual apprehension; the spirit is meant to be affected by it and to find some satisfaction in it.” Explains Danto: “The originality of the artist comes from inventing modes of embodying meanings she or he may share with communities of very large circumference.”

Toti Cerda deconstructs the revered masterpieces of the country’s greatest muralist Carlos “Botong” Francisco, while Jun Impas celebrates the nobility of age and culture of the Manobos.

From  his abstract layers of gestural brushstrokes emerge the ambiguous and haunting figures of Cezar Arro, contrasting with the definite sculptural line of Ferdie Cacnio’s ballerinas.

Vincent Padilla’s nostalgia for a vanished past is transformed into a narrative of personal longing for a beloved’s absence, made more meaningful as a classic kundiman or love song. Gerry Joquico’s “Haliging Asin” alludes to Lot’s wife in the Biblical tale in Genesis, who was turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back at Sodom.

More a reflection of contemporary times is a topical subject of violence personified by the feared and loathsome death squad, as embodied in Melvin Culaba’s artwork. Violence, too, is the inherent theme of Ivy Floresca’s “Gospel at 35 Degree” where trigger-happy  hands metamorphose into actual bullets.

Grandier Bella paints an ode to childhood in the portrait of a young boy fantasizing himself as an Indian chief, while fantasy is flaunted by Iggy Rodriguez as a forbidding and towering palace floating in space.

Glenn Cagandahan’s “Jose Rizal” and “Andres Bonifacio” lend their ineffable presence as a projection of their enduring role in the shaping of  our country’s future history, putting pressure on the present to learn the lessons of the past.

 Manila Art 2016 is at the SM Aura Premier, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, on view October 6-9.  For inquiries, call Galerie Anna, cell nos: 0936-713-9213 and 0909-591-8495.



    MELVIN CULABA: Deep Sighs Coming from “HUGOT MODE”

When the greatest poet of the 20th century T. S. Eliot wrote “Humankind cannot bear too much reality,” he was referring to his adopted city: “A crowd flowed under London Bridge. I had not thought death had undone so many.”  The terrifying words emerged from his masterpiece titled “The Waste Land.” As a poetic allegory, it might as well be a depiction of contemporary Philippines, a land laid waste, or at any rate, surely determined to tread the path of destruction.     On view at Galerie Anna is the 23rd solo exhibition of Melvin Culaba. It is a grim, dark, and desperate portrait of a people, and despite our nature’s typical inclination to inject humor even in the midst of tragedy, these are indeed times that try men’s souls. The title itself, “Hugot,” is indicative of our penchant to create a label, a coined word (of which we have a genius), or a slogan to capture a specific or topical phenomenon, whether social, cultural, political or religious. “Hugot” implies drawing from a deep well of hurt, pain, anger or resentment. An observant social realist with an astute eye for the folly of the Filipino, Culaba presents these anxious views that may well be interpreted as visual epitaphs.     Is there a more raging subject in our lives now than the war on drugs? Culaba casts a caustic eye on a social problem of pandemic proportion that threatens to turn our country into a narco-state. Working with layers of symbols and meanings, Culaba depicts a crumbling mansion that was once a noble residence of a distinguished personage, now discredited by history as a traitor. Now in a state of ruins, the mansion – a symbol of the country? -  has been taken over by what are euphemistically called “informal settlers” and alas, transformed into a veritable drug den. Culaba’s approach to painting is a no-holds-barred, unflinching confrontation with reality.     Another painting that works with symbols is “Battleship P,” which may look mysteriously forbidding, as it is the familiar accordion-style metal doors used in warehouses or bodegas.  In one of his journeys down Binondo and Chinatown – like Dante descending into the gates of hell – Culaba was struck by the almost abstract and minimalist design of the subject, which he thereby used as a symbol for the problem at the West Philippine Sea. In his painting, he included a Jet Ski and a lone star fish on the ground. The reference, sly and sardonic, is to the remark of President Duterte, braving his way on the high seas in order to confront China. Comparing the Jet Ski to a battleship merely proves the pathetic helplessness of our country’s capability to protect our shores from foreign usurpers.     The unstable situation in Mindanao exacerbated by the Abu Sayyaf is depicted in “May Forever sa Usapang Bala” where a brigand-figure is garbed a la Marinduque’s Moriones, with the local headgear of a Roman centurion. Culaba relocates an alarming real-life situation into the domain of native theater, in this instance alluding to the Moro-Moro and the battle between the Muslims and the Christians.     As “Hugot” originated from personal emotional travails, there are of course portraits of the human condition, by turns poignant and mischievous. A work that refers to the “hugot” of a painter – No sales? A savage review by a critic? A forthcoming show? – should not necessarily be construed as “autobiographical.” Nonetheless, Culaba knows only much too well the many heartaches and frustrations of the vocation of an artist.     A species of the “Ukay-Ukay” is the “Surplus.” Culaba is, once again, quick to paint this social reality: how a poor Third World country like ours is made the dumping ground of used and second hand goods by rich First World countries like Japan. But this is indeed our reality, with the specter of poverty and economic want always before our eyes, a reality which will not disappear even as we wallow in the quagmire of our “HUGOT Mode.”


“Bloodlines II” at the SM Megamall Art Center


Is artistry hereditary? Is there really an artistic DNA? Why does creativity  run in certain families?

Undoubtedly, Filipinos are celebrated for their artistry in almost all the art forms, and whether in acting, singing, dancing, writing, composing, or directing, a next generation is sure to follow in the artistic footsteps of their parents.

Impelled by these fascinating questions and in celebration of this admirable Philippine phenomenon, Galerie Anna presents the second edition of “Bloodlines,” a selection of visual  works by the country’s families of artists.

 “Bloodlines II” proves that early exposure to the painting activities of their parents as well as the availability of art materials at home are significant factors in the nurturing of the family’s next generation of artists. As a communal activity, painting provides the time for bonding among the family members, with their own parents or siblings as “resident mentors.” The sharing and exchanging of ideas and opinions are also a boon to growing up in an artistic family.

Each of these artists is pursuing his or her own personal direction, whether as the natural evolution of their parents’ vision, or as a radical reaction against it. And whether their painting idiom, style, or technique differs from each other. it can still be said that the family that paints together stays together.

Participating families in “Bloodlines II” are: Santos (Malang, Steve, Soler, Mona, Luis, Carina, Isabel), Vinluan (Nestor, Paulo), Veneracion (Roy, Ian), Delacruz (Fil, Janos), Joquico ( Gerry, Gary, Grae), Cacnio (Angel, Ferdie), Alvarado (Nune, Nonalisa, Bogie, Burog, Nuklar), Garibay (Bam, Nina), Jumalon (Edwin, Mijan, Is, Lorna, Jana), Samson (Jerson, Jaypee), Perreras (Edu, Eric, Eliseo, Eduard), Simsim (Dexter, Joey), Buccat (Herwin, Jerry), Tolentino (Kristoffer, France) and Syjuco (Cesare, Jean Marie, Julian, Maxine, Michelline, Trix).

“Bloodlines II” is curated by art critic Cid Reyes.

SM Megamall Art Center is at the 4/L, The Artwalk, Bldg.A, SM Megamall, EDSA. Mandaluyong City. For inquiries, call cel nos: 0909-591-8495 and 0936-713-9212.