Despite different mediums, all the artwoks give a nod to the Filipino culture: “Planting Rice,” “Capiz,” and “Penitensya.” Photos by Juanito Alipio A. de la Rosa

CONTEMPORARY artistic depictions of Filipino culture were the focus of the annual graduating student thesis exhibit of the Department of Painting of the College of Fine Arts and Design, February 3 to 7 at the Beato Angelico Gallery.

The focus was evident in the title of the exhibit, Aeskultura, an amalgam of “aesthetics” and “culture.” Painting department chair Mailah Baldemor-Balde

said 34 students of the graduating batch were encouraged “to infuse Filipino culture in their art works.” Themes were religion, politics, revelry and transportation.

“Visita Iglesia,” by Anne Katherine Sanchez, is a painting colorful portraying the Filipino-Catholic celebration of Holy Week. It shows a mélange of church facades surrounding an imposing picture of Christ.

Carlo Cortez’s “Penitensya” portrays the penitential activity of self-flagellation. It lacks the rich colors of “Visita” and lets the viewer focus on the blood-red back of a devotee, surrounded by pale figures whose faces seem to be in repentance. The addition of an actual wooden whip in the painting gives the work a chilling effect.

Gastronomy figures in the paintings depicting revelry. “Litson-Baboy” is a three-dimensional installation by Jhoe Marc Bulquerin, complete with the sculptures of the roaster and the pig, and the painting of people apparently enticed by the smell looking from the window.

“Lambanog,” an acrylic by Joanne Magallones, has a vibrant composition showing various images of Quezon folk feasting on the native coconut wine.

Czardel Pugna’s mixed-media “Capiz” pays homage to the Panay Island province and its rich marine resources. It shows a fisherman coming from the shoreline, lugging a gigantic fish over his shoulder with the front half of his body seemingly stepping out of the frame.

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Out of the shadows

Colorful Filipino modes of transportation are the subjects of Mary Ann Herrera’s “Kalesa” and Maritoni Pizarro’s “Pasaherong Pinoy sa Urbanidad.” “Kalesa” features the traditional horse-drawn carriage as a fading mode of transportation, rendered three-dimensionally in wood relief. “Pasaherong Pinoy sa Urbanidad” playfully depicts Filipino commuters inside public utility vehicles.

The artworks were evaluated by a three-member jury, two members of which were invited from outside institutions. Three works tied for first place and best thesis:

“Karaoke Singing,” by Clarisse Guardiano, is a mixed-media work depicting a favorite Filipino pastime. “The Banquet in the Kingdom of God,” by Sister Sun Lim, is a reworking of “The Last Supper”: it shows Jesus flanked by people of all races. Finally, the “Parable of the Prodigal Son,” by Roman Angelo Cruz, is a sculpture-based expressionist installation, showing the father as a stark-white figure holding out exaggeratedly long arms to welcome back his repentant son, a very small kneeling figure.

One of the works will be donated to Gawad Kalinga, Balde said. “Stagnant Pedicab Driver,” by Dandela Cortez, which has a Braille inscription on its glass frame, will also be donated to an institution for the blind, she added.

The rich diversity of this year’s thesis exhibit attests to the improving enrollment in the Painting department. Next schoolyear, 40 freshmen are expected to enroll in the program, Balde disclosed. Juanito Alipio A. de la Rosa and Jonathan Eli A. Libut

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