PRINTMAKING may have taken a beating from both painting and digital art, but it remains a valid vehicle for the visual arts as shown in “Territories,” an exhibit of the Association of Pinoy printmakers at the Bulwagang Fernando Amorsolo and Pasilyo Victorio Edades of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

The exhibit showed various printing techniques such as woodblock, serigraph and intaglio.

Janos de la Cruz, UST Fine Arts in Advertising graduate and award-winning young illustrator and print artist, said the exhibit lets the artist “explore the boundaries” of printmaking while extending the print art on pillows, “bakya” and even as graffiti on walls.

Graphic designer Wesley Valenzuela said the exhibit showed another side of printmaking from what the public had been accustomed to.

His serigraphy work—a print made by pressing ink through a screen to create an image on paper—titled “Coordinates” shows the use of digital imaging. The artist presented silk-screened icons of people and landmarks of Manila in Google Maps, showing his residential address.

UST Graduate School associate professor Rhoda Recto used rubber cut for “Mind My Space,” a form of relief printing applying ink to a carved, protruding flat sheet rubber surface on acrylic-colored textile. Her artwork was divided into three parts: the first depicted a human head partitioned with words denoting individual’s survival abilities; the second showed the human body with linear patterns; and the third literally depicting space (the actual word is written) as a wash of pink, blue and yellow colors amid a nebular background.

Fil de la Cruz’s “The Transformation of Gunsal Malayo” was an intaglio print where the design had been etched on plate and the ink was rubbed on its incisions. It showed an engraved image of a woman from the B’laan tribe whom the artist considered his muse.

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“Both my painting and printmaking art have always been intertwined, and I wanted to use both mediums as a way to symbolize the journey that I undertook in the creation of my art,” de la Cruz said.

Janos de la Cruz, Fil’s son, showed what look like royal figures hanging from the ceiling like a chandelier in “The Despot’s Swan Song.” The work seemed a critique of authoritarianism, very timely as the nation was marking the 30th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolt that ousted the corrupt dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

The artist in fact said he was inspired by the Easter ritual burning of the effigy of Judas Iscariot and a photo of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and his mistress Petacci being hanged by Italian partisans during the Second World War.

Janos said the work was “a commentary on the ephemeral nature of government” and how new leaders start off their administration by “lambasting the previous person in charge.”

Artist-photographer Mars Bugaoan used cutouts of monotype prints on a matrix of heated plastic bags for “Wander,” to represent flexibility and tractability, the qualities of a peregrine.

“I am fascinated with the flexibility of the plastic which leads me into transitioning from creating site-responsive installation works to printmaking,” Bugaoan said.

Bugaoan said print works are just as important as painted canvas.

“People tend to have misconceptions that prints are not original because they can be done in multiples or editions,” he said.

Renowned artist Raul Isidro, a UST alumnus and former president of the Philippine Association of Printmakers (PAP), said exhibits such as “Territories” aimed to bring the print technique back into the consciousness of the Filipinos.

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“It is sad that printmaking in the Philippines remains unattended and neglected,” Isidro told the Varsitarian. “Although it is taught in fine arts programs, it is viewed only as an ordinary subject which should rather be regarded as a highly technical one.”

Printmaking is still taught in the College of Fine Arts and Design, particularly in Painting, but students no longer use the traditional printing machine, said Adrienne Zacarias, faculty secretary.

“This is the reason why I am encouraging Shell Art, Vision Petron or Metrobank Art competition to include printmaking in one of its categories,” said Isidro. “We have to develop the interest of our countrymen towards one of the most technical art processes.”

As for Fil de la Cruz, there is no hierarchy in techniques, processes and mediums in art.

“To appreciate art is a personal journey, for there will always be a particular audience for each artwork,” he said.

Printmaking was introduced in the Philippines during the early 1960s by Manuel Rodriguez Sr. upon return from art studies in New York. He then established the PAP—the former name of A/P. Now 104 years old, Rodriguez is recognized as the Father of Philippine Printmaking.


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