While the parallel events around Art Stage Singapore marked the first time that Philippine art made such a collective impact on the Southeast Asian art scene, one gallery in Singapore has been working for years to introduce Pinoy artists to this market. In a converted shophouse at a leafy residential enclave half an hour from busy Orchard Road, Artesan Galelry + Studio not only hosts exhibits of Filipino art. They have also collaborated with the National University of Singapore to bring artists such as Ronald Ventura (2008) and Antipas Delotavo (2009) into the university’s museum.
Artesan’s packed program includes the awarding of artist residencies. Every year, one of the three winners of the Ateneo Art Awards gets a chance at this grant, and consequently, exhibit in Artesan. Leeroy New, the 2009 winner, had just completed his, and his work makes up part of the exhibit currently on view at the gallery.
Ronald Ventura curated Alter Peace and Formation, a group show that includes works from Ruel Caasi, EJ Cabangon, Igan D’Bayan, Manok Ventura, along with his own and Leeroy’s. Alter Peace plays on the word altarpiece, and each artist takes a section of the gallery to reveal his version. Alter Peace also denotes the opposite of peace, and thus, quite obviously, they mean for their altarpieces to disturb and question.
A group show of such disparate styles cannot completely gel, and unsurprisingly, the works feel a bit awkward all together. I thought Ronald’s and Leeroy’s pieces stood out for their combination of the high tech, pop, and street art with Catholic imagery. Ronald’s assemblage of small paintings, graffiti, and sculpture come together as a robot with the Sacred Heart. Leeroy takes his resin figures of saints as aliens into the belly of an extra-terrestrial cloud.
To end, I quote from the exhibit’s catalogue:
“Alter Peace and Formation exemplifies Artesan’s advocacy to promote young, talented artists from the Philippines and across the region. Gallery owner Roberta Dans adds, ‘The aim of this show is to present these artists in their true context—a dialogue of ideas, where their shared concepts and outlook converge, integrate and evolve, yet remaining separate and true to their individual identities.’”
Alter Peace & Formation runs from 11 to 29 January 2011 at Artesan Gallery + Studio, 793 Bukit Timah Road, #02-01 Singapore 269765. Phone (65) 6469-7818 or visit http://www.theartesan.com