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    New art captures the soul of Mindanao 


    By Kelly Ramos

    The 5th installment of Mindanao’s long-running contemporary art platform Panit Bukog, opened on September 8 at Xavier University’s Fr. Francisco Demetrio Gallery in Museo de Oro, and on September 9 at Carmen Art District, both in Cagayan de Oro City in northern Mindanao. 

    The Panit Bukog 5 (PB5) artworks are scheduled to travel to Dipolog City in Zamboanga del Norte with an exhibition launch on November 10, 2023 at the Museo Dipolog. 

    Participating artists round the installation work of artist and Museo de Oro curator Oscar Floirendo. (Photo by TJ Gallardo)

    In collaborative meetings with artist groups Oro Art Guild from Cagayan de Oro and the Mixed Media Artists of Iligan for its first ever exhibition circa 2000, this platform was conceptualized as a traveling exhibition. After 23 years and 5 exhibitions that brought Mindanao art to various cities around the island, it has developed into a peer-critiqued, curatorially-grounded, practice-led movement for art in Mindanao. 

    Panit Bukog’s defining attributes are its adaptation of the traveling exhibition format, the gathering of artists from different parts of Mindanao, and the simultaneous mounting of exhibitions in several venues,” noted lead curator Tessa Maria Guazon.

    Carmen Art District launch of Panit Bukog 5 on September 9, 2023 (Photo by Xavier Ateneo Film Society)

    Panit Bukog 5 is an open-themed exhibition, thus the unusual range of medium and material: molave hardwood, burnt objects, materials with rust, brass sheets, mother of pearl, algae paint, cloth, non-biodegradable materials, digital video, howitzer cannon shells, as well as oil and acrylic. 

    For PB5, the curatorial team are Associate Professor Tessa Maria Guazon (UP Vargas Museum curator & UP Diliman Dept. of Art Studies); Errol Balcos (visual artist and coordinator); Abraham Garcia (Griffith University art worker); and Cris Rollo (Panit Bukog co-founder) and former NCCA-CVA (2000-2006) national chairman.

    In his opening speech at Carmen Art District, co-curator Garcia reminisced on the original spirit of the exhibition way back in 2000 to 2003 “when the idea germinated in the minds of the artist community” as an artist-run project in alternative spaces. 

    “Being in an alternative space reminds us that art has a lot of possibilities. Hopefully, Panit Bukog 5 will build on the trajectory that has spawned the four editions for the past 20 years. Let us all enjoy the viewing of the works, let us also remember what we have seen in Museo de Oro last night, and see how the works talk about Mindanao karon panahuna which Tessa (Guazon, lead curator) has written in her notes on the exhibition. Unsa man ang Mindanao karon panahuna? Unsa ang atong mga insights or reflection that we could get from looking at the work of this generation of artists? These colleagues of ours?.”      

    Audience participation and impact with featured artist Mark Guimbao’s EGOCENTRIC (3×4 ft acrylic on canvas).

    36 Mindanao contemporary artist and their works

    The featured artists include Nic Aca, Michael Bacol, Joe Bacus, Fr Jason Dy, Oscar Floirendo, Jacinto Geronimo, Jayson Labtan, Donnie Obina, Jeffrey Ouano, Bea Pascubillo, Maila Secuban, Ninianne Sojor, Albert S. Vamenta, Jericho V. Vamenta, and Cling Vega (Northern Mindanao); Francis Ramir Acevedo, Isagani Calio, Mark Guimbao, Jose Jerry Gumanad, Kevin Grapa, Jerome Icao, Romy Jones Mata, Chester Mato, Leo Jesus Marquiala, Emma Prima, Ruby Sabanal, and Jose Armin Virata (Western Mindanao); Rogelito “Jun” Cayas, Elenita Dumlao, Carzen Esprela, Joel Geolamen, Raymund Malicay, Norman Narciso, Arjay Fritz Poncardas, and Rodney Yap (Southern Mindanao) and Manila-based Carlito Amalla (Eastern Mindanao).

    The artistic concerns of this batch of Panit Bukog artists encompass traditional farming life, preservation of culture, the nature of time, Subanen culture, cultural change, the exploitation of sugarcane farmers, the abundance of fish in the Sulu seas, the sense of self and search for Mindanao identity, soul and memory, AI and the metaverse, consumerism, colonialism, geopolitics, climate change, and the ills of a capitalist society.   

    ART TALKS (L-R) Dr. Carthelyn C. Adajar, Marigold Cherie Garrido (Artsada), Melissa Abuga-a (Arkadia & Art Tents), & Chris Gomez (Chris Gomez Design Studio).ART TALKS (L-R) Dr. Carthelyn C. Adajar, Marigold Cherie Garrido (Artsada), Melissa Abuga-a (Arkadia & Art Tents), & Chris Gomez (Chris Gomez Design Studio).

    Art Talks

    Mark Guimbao, featured artist from Misamis Occidental whose 3×4-ft acrylic painting at the Museo de Oro spoke of human nature and art’s function of reminding people of better things, said of the Art Talks: 

    “It was an insightful and inspiring series of art talks kicked off by a panel discussion of the PB5 curatorial team Kelly Ramos as moderator. Artists from different groups and platforms across Mindanao also shared their challenges and milestones in their organizations: Jeffrey Ouano (Tinta Artists of Iligan), Oscar Floirendo (CdeO Arts Guild), Kelly Ramos (Carmen Art District), Marigold Garrido (Artsada), Melissa Abuga-a (Arkadia and Art Tents), and Chris Gomez (Chris Gomez Design Studio).  Thanks to Dr. Hobart Savior and the rest of the team for this wonderful experience” 

    Soul of the region 

    As a seeming testament to this spirit of camaraderie and cooperation in Mindanao art, participating artist Arjay Fritz Hambala Poncardas from Sarangani province, had this parting message: “Salamat sa opportunity to be part of this event. To the curatorial team to whom I learned a lot from, to the fellow participating artists it is an honor to be exhibiting alongside you.”

    “In terms of the substantive message of the works, why is it Panit Bukog? Of course you know panit is skin and bone is bukog, but at the same time it asks the question: when man is reduced to skin and bone, what is left of him? And what is left of him is his soul. And that is what art is all about,” co-curator and Panit Bukog founder Cris Rollo said in a media interview.    

    PB5 is a partnership project between the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and its National Committee on Visual Arts (NCVA) and the Research Institute for Mindanao Culture (RIMCU), with fellow presenters Infinite Lotus Productions, Xavier University, Xavier Center for Culture and the Arts, Museo de Oro, Carmen Art District, Dipolog City LGU, and Museo Dipolog. The sponsors for the Cagayan de Oro leg are Congressman Rufus Rodriguez, Cagayan de Oro City Vice Mayor Jocelyn B. Rodriguez, De Luxe Hotel, Missy Bonbon, Chris Gomez, Karumata, Department of Trade and Industry, and the Cagayan de Oro City LGU.



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