ARTISTS RENDER RIZAL'S RELEVANCE TODAY. (From left) Works of Lerma, Aligaen and National Artist for the Visual Arts, BenCab. Photos by JOHN DANIEL J. HIRRO

FOR THE contemporary art scene, paying tribute to the National Hero is all about incorporating traditions with the changing time, as Looking for Juan and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) both held multimedia exhibitions in honor of Jose Rizal from June 3 to 10 and from June 14 to 17, respectively.

Screenings of Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere, storytelling sessions, and lecture-discussions were held at CCP. Several exhibits by different artists were held to commemorate Rizal’s idealism and ardor.

“It’s about presenting cultural events in a less than traditional way,” explains Karen Flores, officer-in-charge of the Visual Arts and Museo Division (VAMD) of the CCP.

Renowned graffiti group Pilipinas Street Plan (PSP), headed by Painting alumnus named “Jood,” made a modern rendition of the National Hero along the second floor hallway of CCP. One character on the wall is a punk version of Rizal drawn by street artist and College of Fine Arts and Design alumus “Epjay.”

“The mural is characterized by symbolism,” Jood said. “The artists placed what they found intriguing about Rizal’s works on the wall.”

Meanwhile, the Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development (CANVAS) and the Looking for Juan gallery also launched an exhibit titled Relevant Rizal?

Among the artists who participated were Thomasians Anton Balao, Buen Calubayan, Daniel Aligaen, Salvador Ching, Yveese Belen and physician-artist Dante Lerma.

Original works were displayed at the Vargas Museum in the University of the Philippines-Diliman (UP). Images of the artworks were made into outdoor banners which were displayed around the UP Academic Oval and the BenCab Museum in Baguio.

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Daniel Aligaen’s black-and-white “Indio Imortal” depicts a Jolly Roger, the skull and crossbones image diplayed on pirates’ flags, above Rizal’s head. A dartboard is seen in the middle of Rizal’s chest.

“The skull symbolizes how the Spaniards colonized us, while the target literally shows how they specifically chose to conquer the Philippines,” Aligaen explains.

Meanwhile, J. Pacena’s “Bugtong” shows the enigmatic face of a man with his nose and mouth covered by a mask. The artist’s description included lines from Gloc 9’s rap song “Bugtong;” Pwedeng tao, pwedeng hayop, sino kaya ang tinutukoy ko? Aside from being an artist-curator, Pacena directs Gloc 9’s music videos.

“Proudly Philippine Made” by Dante Lerma portrays Rizal as an allusion to a package for export, tagged with a quality sticker which says “Proudly Philippine Made”.

“My concept touches on our pride in Rizal as one of our own. He showed the world the best of what we can be as a people,” Lerma shared.

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