THE PAPER as a premier medium in Philippine art was the focal point of Papelismo 6, a group exhibit at the Nova Gallery, Makati City.

Thomasians Thomas Daquioag, Pinggot Zulueta, Benjie Cabrera and Melvin Culaba were among a dozen artists who explored the creative possibilities of paper as an art medium.

Daquioag, a Painting alumnus of UST, shows social realism in “The Heir” and “The Heir 2,” which portray a child on the floor and a woman sitting on a couch.

His other featured work, a watercolor on arches or air-dried paper titled “ABAKADA Series” features a family making their way through a flood.

“Working on paper as compared to other mediums presents a more difficult challenge,” Daquioag said. “Paper requires a degree of perfection that you don’t necessarily employ in other mediums.”

Meanwhile, Pinggot Zulueta’s black-on-white-ink-on-paper works, reflect his life as an illustrator and newspaper cartoonist back in the 1980s.

Zulueta’s “Talking to Basquiat,” “Knowing Francis Bacon” and “Dialogue with George Condo” are explorations of faces and portraits using the forms and shapes of artists like Picasso and Condo.

“I borrowed art styles from renowned artists and incorporated them with my own style,” Zulueta said. “It’s like a conversation of art between my style and the style of others.”

Zulueta also expressed his preference for paper as a medium since he is known for sketches and illustrations.

“With paper,” he said, “art is boundless. You can sketch, cut, fold, or literally do anything that doesn’t limit your art.”

Meanwhile, engraving artist Cabrera’s works titled “Unexpected Visitor,” “Garden Delight” and “Erratic Self-Reflection” deal with themes of creation, preservation and destruction.

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“My works in this edition of Papelismo tell the story of evolution where spectators can see the process of life growing and decaying,” Cabrera said.

Despite using engraving in most of his works, Cabrera does not mind using other mediums such as paper, which to him is special if not superior to other mediums.

Culaba’s charcoal-on-paper works delve on religious themes. “Patakam sa kung ano ang kinain… bago kumain” depicts the Crucifix mounted on a wall, among various framed religious icons like the Virgin Mary holding the Infant Jesus.

Culaba’s “Patatawarin po” shows a capped face, resembling the figure of Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant reformation, flanked by a horde of demon-like creatures in the background, in what seems chaos and hellfire.

Renato Habulan, the exhibit curator, told the Varsitarian that he wants to change the mindset of people who think of paper as a second-class artwork.

“We want to challenge the market, that paper is as durable as canvas,” Habulan said.

Ali Alejandro, director of Nova gallery and also a practicing artist, emphasized how paper is a staple in the art scene and how it will always hold a purpose despite arising forms of new mediums.

“Working on paper is a one-act job which requires perfection because committing one mistake will mean you have to start all over again,” Alejandro said.

The group has expanded to 12 artists for this year’s show from the initial five in their 2012 exhibit originally titled PapelMismo.


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