“Alas Cuatro” is an art exhibition by “Tuslob-Buwa”, an art group composed of four contemporary visual artists in Cebu namely Jojo Sagayno, Evan Bejec, Sio Montera, and Ritchie Quijano. The show highlights the four individual directions each have taken hence the title “Alas Cuatro”.
The exhibit takes significance because the group’s composition and the number signify solidity in structure. In a deck of cards, there can be only four aces and nothing more therefore “Tuslob-Buwa” as a group is complete.
The four are in the prime of their artistic professions. Jojo Sagayno is a progressive mixed-media conceptual artist and currently a member of the faculty of the College of Architecture and Fine Arts at the University of San Carlos in the Philippines. Evan Bejec was educated in the Fine Arts and is both a dedicated painter and prolific wood sculptor. He also teaches Basic Drawing at SM City Cebu’s Summer Art School annually. Sio Montera is an inexhaustible abstract expressionist painter and has mounted numerous solo shows to his credit. He completed his MFA at UP Diliman and is presently an Assistant Professor in the Fine Arts program of the University of the Philippines Cebu College. Lastly, Ritchie Quijano pursues the craft of both painting and sculpture. Extremely passionate in the field of art, Ritchie currently writes for Sun Star Daily covering the arts and culture scene of Cebu City.
The quadro of four emerging artists are set to unveil their most recent works at the Bluewater Gallery of Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort form January 19, 2006 to February 18, 2006.
The Bluewater Gallery is located in Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort in Mactan Island, Cebu, Philippines and is open from 10AM to 6PM on weekdays and from 10AM to 8PM on weekends. Non-resort guests are requested to call Ms. Juliet Amazona at 492-1808 or 232-5411 and arrange for an exhibit viewing appointment. For inquiries, you can call the above numbers or email the gallery at .
Showing now at the SM Art Center is Dennis “Sio” Montera’s one-person show of paintings, entitled “Free Forms.” Featured here are formalist, abstract paintings, which are in a way unprecedented for their sizes and consistency of style.
Dennis is one among the younger generation faculty of UP Cebu College Fine Arts Program. He recently finished his Masters of Fine Arts degree at UP Diliman. Prior to his undergraduate studies at UP Cebu, he trained under such artists as Mar Vidal. He is acquainted with the painting techniques of the local realists and once painted using the color principles taught by the late Cebuano master Martino Abellana, which he learned from the master’s students.
Most of his early naturalistic works orbited around the phenomenon of food. This was a natural consequence traced to his fondness for travel, especially to beach resorts. He takes his students regularly for painting sessions on the beaches of Bantayan Island. For these sorties he would often be accompanied by his barkada of artists, now organized into the art group Tuslob Buwa Ltd. The group holds regular summer art workshops at SM, as well as regular group shows done usually around a theme. Jojo Sagayno, one of the members of this group and currently teaching at the Fine Arts Department of University of San Carlos, spoke of a regular activity they hold on New Year’s Eve: they would go around the downtown area giving food to the people living on the streets.
Given this orientation, it is only expected that the group should espouse some higher cause. This cause is the cause of modernism and, being the young artists that they are, the cause of modernism is for them the battle cry for change. This, of course, is an assertion that cannot help but raise discussion and argument, especially that sort of argument that Western modernists had traditionally tried to escape from. Jackson Pollock, who was the great icon of Western modernism, had always stayed away from spoken and written discourses. He had the art critic and staunch supporter Clement Greenberg to do all the talking for him.
One might argue if modernism really represents any change at all, even in our locality. Abellana, after all, had done non-objective abstractionist paintings, some dated in the early sixties. On the other hand, there is already an established tradition of non-objective art making here. We have abstractionists like Tito Cuevas, Andrew Barba, Vidal Alcoseba, etc., who have worked in this genre for many years now. But it is true that the local audience for art is still stuck up with a type of naturalistic realism, most likely rooted to the feudalistic agricultural system, which still persists. Thus, clearly, the battle for modern art is yet to be won in the local setting.
I am not an abstractionist. My affinity is for post-modernism rather than for what has by now become mainstream, modernist art in the Philippine setting. Even so, I do have a lot of sympathy for any effort whatsoever to enhance modernism in our local community and country. Thus, I am inclined to give the local modernists my full measure of support. This is the reason why I feel they should increase the effort to clarify the philosophical basis of their art, especially in the literature that accompanies the work.
The paintings are by themselves exceptional but they are not themselves capable of artistic revolution. What modernists should do is to clarify, hopefully in vivid terms, their context in the local culture. We know the appearance of the works they like to produce. But because we are not a Western culture nor are we a fully westernized one, we cannot help but ask: What do modernists want for us? What do they envision for us in the future world? How should we view their works?
In religion, humility is among the most desired of virtues. In art, it is audacity. Audacity is not the same as pride though it is often mistaken for such, making it appear like the antithesis of humility.
In "Art Diocese : Why Art Thou?," a show on-going at the SM Art Center, SM City Cebu, and up until November 6, audacity is as palpable as their subject is as deeply entrenched culturally if not spiritually amongst us.
There is humility, too, it should be said immediately, though this is more deferential as can be expected of confessed faithful members of the flock ("the exhibit is not intended to make a pun to the authority of the archdiocese"), yet cannot be any more than that as expected from artists whose gospel, contained in the exhibit statement (from where the above quote is also taken), proclaims at " . . . revisioning to a point where the artists investigated its old traditions to come up with conceptual forms attuned to post-modern times."
The Tuslob-Buwa Ltd. (though it should more properly be UnLtd.) Artists Group, composed of Evan Bejec, Dennis 'Sio' Montera, Ritchie Quijano and Lucilo 'Jojo' Sagayno have put together a show that, in all humility, they call a 'major' show, their last for this year, but for all its audacity should be seen as the best show for this year. Even in many years so far. And not only for their group, but for art in general in the city.
For one, more than in their previous two outings this year, this show exhibits an almost seamless cohesiveness that is nothing short of miraculous for a group of different or individual artistic temperaments, stylistic leanings and technical or conceptual proficiency.
This can be attributed largely to the fact that many of the pieces are collaborative works, which could really be the strength of groups though it could just as well be the cause of schism, as with many unfortunate cases. Here, thankfully, it is most of the former and, evidently, none of the latter.
On this score, "Santisima Nombre de Jesus," a large scale wall installation made of rattan skin and abaca rope that dominates the wall opposite the entrance, is an immediate case in point.
Together with the the life-size reinforcing steel bar, wood and assorted images crucifix of Ritchie Quijano ("Crucifixion de Kabilya") that stands very imposingly in the middle of the wall and divides the wall installation into a very dynamic symmetry, this sculptures-cum-installation recall the triumphal entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday that ends many days later in Golgotha.
These are by no means the cute and handy palm fronds peddled outside churches on Palm Sunday. They are huge bunches of clearly organic material whose chaos is barely restrained by a wound abaca rope giving it a quality that strongly strikes one as sinisterly chaotic grace.
Going back to Quijano's crucifix, this work is the pivot of the entire exhibit both spatially and thematically. Quijano's choice of material feeds very well into the conflicts or weights of the broken Christ; strength and weakness, grace and rigidness, salvation and despair, mortality and immortality and, for the church herself; orthodoxy and heterodoxy. This, then, also contributes to its very striking visual impact.
Towards the right wall (or towards the left from the entrance) are the installations of Jojo Sagayno that, I confess, I find most interesting. These works stamp the group with a seriousness of purpose beyond the traffic of the buying and selling of art -- which, I should also immediately confess, I do not find inherently objectionable -- even if, or ironically since it was Jojo himself who made an impassioned plea to the audience during the exhibit opening, that they should "buy an artwork before you die."
These works also confirm Sagayno's place as one of Cebu's most thought provoking if self-deprecating conceptual/installation artist.
Playing on the 'cross and sword'' dynamic of the Spanish conquest, Sagayno starts from the most literal imagery of nothing more than a cross and a sword. But its simplicity ends here though the fact that it continues be a disarmingly simple pieces is its poetic coup de grace.
For both pieces, the shapes are formed by sticks. For the cross, they are longer sticks: broomsticks. For the sword, they are shorter sticks: toothpick like. For both, the sticks are held in place by mounting gum, or, perhaps, playdoh.
They look fragile. They are fragile. But, collectively they are big. The cross must be around four meters by three. The sword about 3 meters in length from the end of the handle to the tip of the blade.
The cross-sticks is laid on the ground. The sword-sticks is on the wall overlooking (overseeing?) the cross. A subtle but very ingenious way to present the power relations between two institutions that underpinned the realpolitik of conquest.
Also, another thing. the cross is a positive image, though more a thick outline than a filled up object, while the sword is a negative one with the sticks radiating away from the edges that make up the figure.
But, here is the kicker: the sticks are tethered very tentatively on their mounting gum anchors. Already at the exhibit opening some of the sword-sticks have started to fall and some of the cross-sticks had started to topple down.
No power is permanent. Even, God forbid, that of the cross. Nor of the sword that propped it up.
But then, and here is an even bigger kicker; doesn't this run neatly into the there/not there paradox? Doesn't absence often become a greater presence? Ask someone in love who has lost a love.
I discussed this with Sagayno and he smiled. That's how it's supposed to be, he says. Nice.
Then there is another Sagayno, "Auction No. 1 to No.20 On the face of it, it looks out of place. But upon closer inspection the wickedly inventive art of Sagayno shines through.
With this work, Sagayno turns some tables. He shifts the spotlight. It is now on art or the art practice at the rarefied air of international art auctions (Christie's, Sotheby's) which, if art were a religion, these would be akin to the celebration of mass in a cathedral, or at the Sistine Chapel even. This is definitely Papal level, no disrespect to the Pope.
Pronouncements here are Ex Cathedra. And, what would those pronouncements be? They would be pronouncements of the auction gavel closing a sale. Contained within the reproductions of auctioned art works are their selling or closing prices.
The prices range from US$66,000 to US$ 3.99 M. Why an artwork in black with the text Mar. 31, 1975 in white sold for US$316,000 is simply a mystery as deep as the mystery of the trinity. Again, no disrespect to the triune God.
Then, there more notable collaborative pieces found on the left hand side of the space (or right side from the entrance). "Council of Trent," a collaborative work repositions that conclave, between 1545-1563, signaling the beginning of the Counter-Reformation is on a chess board, with personalities who might not have any actual correspondence in actual history, as the pieces.
Next to the chess table is the work, "Peticiones de Kwitis." This is the usual candle rack near churches where the faithful light candles or the candle vendor does the chore for them. Lighting candles assist the ascent of prayers to Heaven.
But, here, instead of candles, the rack is filled up with fireworks rockets, complete with their bamboo stick stabilizers.
On the visual level, they look like a petal-less, flame-less bouquet. On the content level, it is a tongue-in-cheek suggestion at how those prayers might be better assisted with rockets such as these that zoom to the heavens and explode with a noise that will surely wake up the sleepiest of saints, or otherwise, scare the most cantankerous of devils.
Then there are the smaller pieces, too numerous to enumerate here. They are the ones that Sagayno's earlier appeal would make sense with, for those of us who have less than deep pockets.
Still, this show is not about deep pockets, notwithstanding Sagayno's appeal. This exhibit is about the deep repository of poetics even folksy hermeneutics that will surely resonate with the faithful, the not so faithful and even the faithless.
In this way, even with some minor distracting pieces, the exhibit can be said to be faithfully Catholic.
THE local art scene will be shaken anew from shock value when the group of four artists, known as Tuslob-Buwa Ltd., will present another unprecedented leap to where art hasn’t gone before.
The group is composed of Evan Bejec, Sio Montera, Jojo Sagayno and this writer. The collaborative show of paintings, installations and sculptures is titled Art Diocese.
It will try to reinforce faith by strengthening the visual form of articles and facts relevant to religion.
Opening reception will be at 6 p.m. on Oct. 24 at the SM Art Center.
The concept-themed show tackles the issue of continuity in the visual arts of the church and faith in the face of modernism and contemporary art. The church as an institution of faith will see a change of form and design as it enters a new era. The changes that are happening challenged the artists to contribute new and dynamic ideas.
To do this, they use elements of church and articles of faith to the body of knowledge known as visual arts history.
The substance of the exhibit will carry varied propositions in design concept. The group believes an artist is spiritual, and art to him is imbued with spirituality.
Art Diocese is intended as an adoration of faith, a revelation the artists will share with viewers. Most importantly, it is an epiphany that makes spirituality part of work attitude and the intellectual process. Such is the gospel according to Tuslob-Buwa.
By Ardelle T. Merton
The Freeman Daily
Sunday, August 26, 2007
“In art perhaps, the creation of the free form epitomizes the greatest of all human rights of expression…Pure and honest abstraction is the pinnacle of the art practice because there are no visual guides, no preliminary studies, no references and the like…It is unpredictable in the sense that the artists can never foresee his desired result but given the free rein of his imagination, the artist exercises complete and unrestrained freedom,” scribed writer Ritchie Quijano in admiration of renowned local artist Dennis “Sio” E. Montera’s seventh exhibit solo exhibit.
Montera’s Free-Form is the artist’s new collection of large scale artworks symbolizing not only the creative freedom Quijano wrote of, but also of Montera’s personal growth as an artist. No longer contented with the standard canvass size, Montera went beyond conventional borders and created post-modernist abstractions on canvasses of larger scale. Thus, his Free-Form collection was born. His works feature layers of acrylic and mixed media to reach a captivating blend of colors that is uniquely Montera. Step into The Dark Side, and witness how spattering of wine-red and black can be so alluring. Pay Homage to Emil Schumacher, and marvel at how the otherwise bland color of gray could add much depth to a visual. The artist’s Four Sided Six will have you counting sides and shapes, and loving numbers in abstract form. At the grand size of 213 x 365 cm, his Composition in Grid-Stratum inspires one to indeed think big!
Cebuano artist Sio Montera was born in August 19, 1972. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of the Philippines (UP) Visayas-Cebu in 1996 and proceeded to earning a Master’s degree in Fine Arts from the UP Diliman College of Fine Arts in October 2004. He is currently an Assistant Professor in UP Visayas – Cebu as well as a Program Coordinator in the Fine Arts program. As a professor, he delightfully merges art theory and hands-on practice when teaching his college students. Sio Montera has carved his name in the local art scene through numerous solo and group exhibits throughout his artistic career.
Cebuano abstractionist painter Sio Montera will unveil his latest creations through the solo-exhibit “Free-Form” at the Art Center of SM City Cebu from August 15-28, 2007. The all-new collection of contemporary abstract paintings is part of the artist’s creative output as a recipient of the Ramon Durano professorial chair award from the University of the Philippines.
In this exhibit, Montera addresses the issue of ‘form’ in relation to the artist’s creative techniques and use of material. The artist believes that it is essential to dissociate the process of image-making from any pre-conceived idea, and to let form emerge out from the painting process itself. Thus, the act of painting would become a meditative event that would, in turn, lead to self-discovery.
With this latest exposition, Sio Montera confronts us with large format canvases that demonstrate both simple and complex configurations of paint masses, expressive force of texture, and color modulations characterized by a careful balance between spontaneous gesture and continual control. To lend order in every composition, the artist approaches each canvas from every side forming either atmospheric expanse or calligraphic grids that suggest an infinite extent, as if the pictorial space were merely a section chosen at random. As in all of Sio Montera’s abstractions, the elements are delicately worked up in alternating sequences with great force and rapidity to free form from pictorial illusion and achieve a post-painterly equilibrium in art.
FREE-FORM the exhibit is open to the general public from 10AM to 9PM daily. The Art Center is located at the 2nd level of SM City Cebu (beside VECO). For inquiries and appointments call 2319851 or 09173295626.
The issue of ‘form’ in relation to a predetermined appearance and meaning is being addressed by this artist. He believes that it is essential to dissociate the process of image-making from any pre-conceived idea, and to let form and content emerge out from the painting process itself. Thus, the act of painting would become a direct phenomenon that would, in turn, lead to self-discovery. This ‘directness in painting’ as motivated by the dictates of the artist’s passion, medium and technique, would allow the content to finally emerge.
The artist in his own way would build an open compostion, every detail of which is layered with equal intensity. An over-all field or total mass image may have no single object or shape that stands out from the total energy impact. In his process, the artist desires for ‘total-involvement’ with the act of painting. The works’ often comprise slabs of color and painterly marks that are impulsive and dynamic, and that seem to expand beyond the framing edges, as if the pictorial space were merely a section chosen at random. In this process, the artist now regards painting as an intense, unpremeditated search for the images of his creative experiences and/or emotions.
As in most of the artist's abstractions, the collection on this site are highly artistic configurations of paint masses, expressive force of texture, and color modulations characterized by a careful balance between spontaneous gesture and continual control. Having spurned conceptual design that leads to picture-making, the elements are delicately worked up from the bottom-up and from the top-down with a sense of immediacy to free form from pretty pictorial illusionism and attain a post-painterly equilibrium in art.
In art, the creation of free form epitomizes the greatest of all human rights of expression.
When the mind takes over what the eyes can no longer perceive during artistic production, the aftermath will only be pure abstraction. Having to think in abstract terms can deter the self from reality and things practical because, first and foremost, abstraction exists only in the mind. Pure and honest abstraction is the pinnacle of the art practice because here the artist starts with zero visibility in the form of an empty space or a blank canvas.
It is unpredictable, in the sense that the artist can never foresee his desired result. Given a free rein of his imagination, the artist exercises complete unrestrained freedom.
Free Form, the seventh solo exhibition of Sio Montera, may be viewed at the SM Art Center till Aug. 28. This next level of his art brings him to the state of mind where the cerebral authority rules over “art.” An awakening of the artist’s subliminal self. Conscious all throughout in what he is doing, while freeing himself at the same time from representations that limit visual perception. Having the gift of free will has been innate in mankind since primordial times.
We inherit this capacity from birth, but rarely do we summon and use this power because of the fear to use it excessively. A new way of seeing and doing a painting may alter accepted customs and violates cultural restraints.
Montera, as an artist, wants big changes now. He wants to leave an imprint in art history by introducing new processes and new materials, like asphalt, which are alien to painting tradition. His mostly mixed media works are an amalgam of different paint mediums that overlap and blend with each other.
In some works, he employs outrageous implements such as a steel brush. He clearly is breaking rules. By exploring other painting grounds, such as tarpaulin, he paves the way to further exploration. In the vein of non-objective/abstract expressionism, Montera contributes to the movement’s endless possibilities. His continuous and spontaneous approach achieves what the mind can only perceive—the unseen and the unknown.
He farms a concept and plants the germ of an idea that blossoms into a wild but carefully controlled work of art worthy of a pedestal at the apex of artistic profession.
SOCIETY has been exposed to the creation of abstract art since people have existed, but recognizably, there are varying "levels" of abstraction. Depending on the degree of abstraction, the artist has to discover more ingenious ways of conveying that precise concept. At an instance in humans’ early history, cave walls became the canvasses of men and women who drew scenes of hunting, of their flourishing bounty, of race, moment and milieu. Contemporary painters, such as Jackson Pollock, articulated emotions and pure concepts on canvas. Because his work has been inclined to focus around the notion of order within chaos, Pollock is an eminent paradigm. The perception of victory or success in hunting has to be easier to express than the notion of orderly chaos. With more involved "subjects", the form of expression itself has to become flexible. Thus, the significance of abstract art.
In his essay Roots of Diversity in Philippine Contemporary Art, artist/writer/curator Ronald Hilario noted that “The early 1950's saw the triumph of the modernists over the conservatives. Thanks to the efforts of Lyd Arguilla of the Philippine Art Gallery in showcasing the art of the young modernists, abstraction gained a stronger foothold and soon became the dominant style. More informed in the aesthetics of cubism, surrealism, and expressionism, these young artists expanded the concern of Philippine visual arts from style to a broader exploration of the formal elements of visual art. The first non-representational paintings and sculptures appeared at this stage, and were developed to a higher level by the third wave of artists who came in during the 1960's to the 1970's. Some of the more active artists in this period were Vicente Manansala, Napoleon Abueva, Jose Joya, Cesar Legaspi, Arturo Luz, and Fernando Zobel. Texts on abstract art became more available to artists in the 60's. Modernist art theories were introduced and taught in the Philippine Fine Arts Schools by academics and artists such as Rod Paras Perez and Roberto Chabet. Readings of these texts paved the way for a more cerebral approach to art making. Conceptual Art, Minimalism, and Performance Art made their debut in the country. Artists also became more vocal about their works and some published their ideas in art journals such the Philippine Supplement in the 70's. The Marcos regime's patronage of the arts added muscle to many artists' projects. The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), the centerpiece of the First Lady Imelda Marcos' cultural program, was established and became the home of non-objective art. During the tenure of artist-curators Ray Albano and Roberto Chabet the CCP galleries were sites of numerous abstract art exhibitions and performances. At the forefront of these activities were Ray Albano, Gus Albor, Roberto Chabet, Mars Galang, Ben Maramag, Lee Aguinaldo and David Medalla.”
Modern art has usually been characterized by its inventiveness, and within this parameter, critics have looked to formal innovation to classify artworks in relation to their time, rather than place of origin. The nonrepresentational contemporary art that critics have made canonical was concerned with universal and transcendent aims, or with rendering concepts.
The title implies urgency, not the haphazard approach for art’s sake, but of the manner by which the artwork impacts on the viewer. It is the resultant realization when the message of the abstraction has been deciphered, and in this instant, that dawning comes charging fifteen times over. That ensuing speed, that consequential rush impinging on the cerebral, in a flash engulfs the aficionado.
This exhibition features paintings – significant pieces designed to visually expound important concepts about abstraction and its history in a non-threatening manner copulated with the dynamic relationship between discourses, forms, and styles. From the deceased to the emergent, the artists in this exhibition were all vital to producing the FLASH, a uniquely positioned showcase of Philippine Abstraction.
Ross Capili, Danilo Garcia, Andrew de Guzman, Fitz Herrera, Raul Isidro, Alfredo Liongoren, Sio Montera, J Elizalde Navarro, Eghai Roxas, Hermi Santo, Sherwin Tan, Roy Veneracion, Phililip Victor, Javy Villacin and Nestor Olarte Vinluan.
FLASH! Fifteen Filipino Abstractionists shall be on view starting October 18, 2008 at Galerie Anna, 7th floor, Ramon Magsaysay Center, Roxas Boulevard corner Dr. J. Quintos Street, Manila 1004 Philippines. For more information and queries about the gallery and the exhibition, you can log on to , contact Gallery Manager Mr. Joffrey Baylon at landline number (632) 5679483, or email at .