The exhibit, Recollection 1081: Clear and Present Danger (Visual Dissent on Martial Rule), features works by 30 visual and literary artists focusing on martial law and its horrors. The show is being mounted to mark the 40th anniversary this year of the declaration of martial law on September 21, 1972.

The exhibit is running at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ (CCP) Bulwagang Juan Luna and Pasilyo Guillermo Tolentino until September 30.

Martial law remains an inexhaustible mine for artists. “The dictatorship fuelled the creative expression of artists, and they sought to expose the political, cultural and social situation under it,” said CCP Chair Emily Abrera during the opening of the exhibit last July 14.

Alumni of UST are taking part in the exhibit.

Anna Fer, one of the first editors of Vision Magazine, the College of Architecture’s official student publication, painted “Favali at Iba Pang Biktima,” an oil-on-canvas work depicting the victims of martial law atrocities, such as Fr. Tulio Favali, the Italian Catholic missionary who was killed by local militia in Mindanao in the early 1980’s.

Jose Tence Ruiz’s “Revolution Evolution Pixelation” is a digital print on tarpaulin in two parts showing a pixilated photo of Ferdinand Marcos on the left, and Juan Ponce Enrile, Marcos’ defense minister and effectively martial law administrator, on the right.

Ruiz, who graduated cum laude in Fine Arts from UST, said that the presence of Marcos is still palpable despite the passage of many years.

“The last 40 years were a setback brought about by the corruption that the Marcos regime had caused, and our present economy is still paying the price,” Ruiz said.

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Two-time Benavides award recipient Orlando Castillo’s “Justice Under Martial Law” is an oil-on-canvas work showing Marcos wearing a barong with the colors and images of the American flag. With his right hand up in the air and his left holding a gavel, Marcos is flanked by monochrome images of violence, torture, and dispersals of rallies and strikes. The painting symbolizes Marcos’ fraudulent nationalism and his true ties with American imperialism.

Edicio de la Torre said he painted “Notes for a Theology of Struggle” while he was in jail for nine years during the Marcos era. The painting is a long canvas with all its elements painted in black. De la Torre, a former priest, drew events that occurred during his imprisonment, such as the construction of the giant Marcos bust in the Ilocos. Two hands hold themselves out on both sides of the canvas, with one hand in a passive position and the other, sprouting leaves and fruits, signifying De la Torre’s optimism despite the oppressive situation back then.

“It is part of Christian tradition to struggle when needed,” De la Torre said. “Struggles would not be struggles forever, and we should not be pessimistic about the future because our hardships would always lead to better things.”

Organized by the Liongoren Gallery and the Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development (CANVAS), the exhibit is a division of Piglas, a two-part event that commemorates Martial Law during the regime of President Marcos.

Gigo Alampay, executive director of CANVAS, which organized the exhibit with Liongoren Gallery, said the show was mounted both as a memorial and a reminder to future generations to be watchful against the return of authoritarianism.

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Other participating artists are National Artist Benedicto Cabrera, Alfredo Liongoren, Pablo Baens Santos, Charlie Co, Renato Habulan, Junyee, Imelda Cajipe-Endaya, Antipas Delotavo, Jaime de Guzman, and Al Manrique.


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