Two years ago, I had my first encounter with the sculpture of Roedil “Joe” Geraldo and Israel “Noi” Gonzales. Together with other artists from the Visayas, they came to Manila, to the Alliance Francaise Total Gallery, in June 2008, and introduced their terracotta pieces. This month, they return to that very same gallery in a three-man show with Mark Valenzuela, a critically-recognized artist who also shares their passion for working with clay.
The terracotta that these three artist choose to fondle and shape comes from the richness of the earth where they make their homes. All three have been nourished in Western Visayas, the base from which they work. As Mme. Deanna Ongpin-Recto, President of Alliance Francaise de Manille, remarked during the exhibit’s opening reception, all three see terracotta as a pure and spiritual medium. They enjoy a special closeness with this material as it is literally borne from the soil they inhabit.
In this show, which they have dubbed Gingikanan or Origin, they use this clay to explore their roots, to look back to their ancestors and forebears, to revisit experiences that have shaped their persons.
Joe, who won first prize at this year’s GSIS Art Competion for sculpture, exhibits the most polished pieces. Early on in his career, he chiseled his figures out of woodblocks. He takes inspiration from the rituals of daily
life in his native Bacolod to bring us work that strike me as three-dimensional versions of Ang Kiukok’s paintings. Mark, who has been a short-listed artist for the Ateneo Art Awards, brought out
Exhibitionist, a life-sized piece from his own collection. I felt, though, that his work and that of Noi’s, who both showed mostly busts, looked interchangeable. Perhaps they should both start looking beyond past pieces for their future work.
Mme. Ongpin-Recto also used the exhibit’s opening to announce the launch of the Alliance Francaise de Manille-Philippine Artists Residency Program. This grant, to be awarded on an annual basis, will allow for one Filipino visual arts practitioner to enjoy a three-month residency in Paris. As far as I know, this is open to artists 45 years old and below. Now, that is what I call a great opportunity!
Origin runs from 3 to 26 August 2010 at the Alliance Francaise Total Gallery, 209 Nicanor Garcia St., Bel Air 2, Makati City. Phone (632) 895-7585/ 895-7441.
For more information on the Alliance Francaise de Manille-Philippine Artists Residency Program, you may visit the Alliance Francaise or http://www.alliance.ph