When we think of Cavite, we think of Emilio Aguinaldo hoisting the flag of the first Philippine Republic from his balcony in Kawit, of the tulisans that struck fear and terror on average folk, of Ramon Revilla, as Nardong Putik, brandishing his agimat against the forces of evil. We also know the agimat as the anting-anting, an amulet against danger and death, one’s defense against bodily harm.
Ten years ago, when a group of artists from the province of Cavite banded together, they called themselves Anting-anting after this cultural trademark. They first came together as an informal group to share ideas, mount exhibits, and hold workshops. Today, the eleven members regard Anting-anting as barkada. Hardly any of them call Cavite home anymore. From a group of artists pooling their talents into a collective, they have become a group of friends who all happen to be artists.
Salvation History marks the first in a series of three shows planned to celebrate Anting-anting’s 10th Anniversary. Each of the artists’ distinct styles come together under the themes of Langit (Heaven), Lupa (Earth), Impiyerno (Hell). A different venue plays host to each exhibit.
Mounted in Tin-Aw’s spanking new space (right beside their old one!), the eleven artists of Anting-Anting bring us their versions of heaven. Alfredo Esquillo Jr. paints another
archival masterpiece, Pangakong Langit, where an indigenous Filipino flutters free from bondage, escaping from the menial task of carrying his American burden. Within the frame of his oil on rubber piece, Esqui carves a phrase from the protest song Bayan Ko, originally written for the American occupation. Emmanuel Garibay chooses to illustrate the fake nirvana continually pledged by our politicians. Play I Spy with his piece, Republika ng Sining, and see if you can spot the controversial personalities that surround his principal subject, a politician or priest whose elongated nose calls Pinocchio to mind. On the corner, a smiling Ate Glo (note the enhanced mammary glands!) cradles a figure that sports Carlo Caparas’ trademark cap, long locks, and shades.
Lawrence Bersoto portrays fierce guardians of heaven’s gate in Summer of the Gang. You don’t immediately notice that the splashes of white in Jojo Lofranco’s Balloon depict the face of Pope John Paul II. Underneath all the layers of color, already rendered invisible, he put in other religious leaders to illustrate the different views of heaven, Osama Bin Laden among them. Dei Jardiniano ‘s mixed media piece, Looking Into Heaven Through God’s Eye, is made up of a painting that resembles a pastel dartboard and a chrome sculpture that you peep into like a telescope. When focused on the painting, the lenses distort his colors in the manner of a kaleidoscope.
You get a diverse range of paintings, from Garibay and Esqui’s social histories to Christian Tamondong’s depiction of heaven as a steaming cup of coffee. The exhibit gives us a mixed bag for every inclination.
The members of Anting-anting are Emmanuel Garibay, Alfredo Esquillo Jr., Wilfredo Alicdan, Dei Jardiniano, Jojo Lofranco, Clairelynn Uy, Cris Sipat, Jojo Austria, Lawrence Bersoto, Rosario Sanchez, and Christian Tamondong.
Salvation History runs from 11 to 30 September 2009 at Tin-Aw Art Management Inc., Upper Ground Floor, Somerset Olympia, Makati Avenue, Makati. Phone (632) 892-7522 or visit http:// www.tin-aw.com