It’s a clever yet interesting concept to see the fusion of old and contemporary art pieces at the Lopez Museum. The art pieces that showcase confrontation and conflict are given a fresh perspective by two young artists known for their individual styles and passion towards art.
I haven’t been to a lot of art exhibit in recent years where the artist himself or herself shares a little story about his or her work of art.
Artists Nikki Luna and Ernest Concepcion, and even artist director Claro Ramirez, Jr., spare a few minutes of their time to share what contemporary arts are all about, how they shape, affect or influence the society.
Such an unforgettable afternoon I had with these amazing artists, especially with Nikki Luna, a human rights advocate. Her arts and her dedication to help the displaced women and children in conflict-stricken areas in Northern Mindanao are truly inspirational.
All her four artworks at the Lopez Museum signify land.
“Land is a major part of the show because a lot of our lands are contested and disputed either because of mining or the feudal system,” Luna explains.
Luna’s artworks articulate for the ones that cannot actually have a voice when it comes to owning and claiming land.
Precious and Fertile. The white pieces signify picket fence (made of china bone). Beneath the fence is the land being “contested”. At the back of the fence is a running video taken from Hacienda Luisita.
Azucacera. The glass box contains 7 pieces of brown and 7 pieces white sugar diamonds.
Embellished Earth. The glass case contains clay, rice and munggo in 14k gold and each was placed on top of a small jewelry box. So, like the sugar (diamonds), rice and mongo is valuable to landlords or farmers.
Luna said the mongo seeds came from Mindanao and it’s what they plant there. They don’t sell it, but it’s what they live by. The rice or palay, on the other hand, came from Hacienda Luisita. People in Hacienda Luisita get to sell the palay and get to eat it, too.
Lupa: Kibawe-Bukidnon, Maramag-Bukidnon, Opol-Misamis Oriental, San Fernando-Bukidnon, Ramain-Lanao Sur, Dalwangan-Malaybalay, Balingasag, Misamis Oriental – One cup of soil per display case. The seven soils represent seven places in Mindanao that have been militarized due to mining.
When asked how effective is art in supporting social causes, Luna said it is effective as it stirs people’s interest to react on certain issues.
“People come in here, you make them look, automatically they will reflect on it whether good or bad, whether they want to help or not, whether it’s interesting, they will ask a question, like ‘ano ‘yan, ano ‘to? And then they will find out the information, the story, and then later on you’re left with that thought, ‘where do you stand?’ ‘May paki ka?‘ or ‘tiningnan mo lang ‘to sa gallery and that’s it, wala ka ng paki pagkatapos? O may iba pa na pwedeng mabago. So, I believe art can do that if we can all…I particularly mean, I really like art that can say a lot about our times because our art can actually shape our society,” Luna explains.
Meantime, if you love the kind of art that would seem to take you to a different dimension, visit Ernest Concepcion’s work at the Lopez Museum as he tries to recreate painter (Felix Resurreccion) Hidalgo as the super multi-dimensional time bandit, in his mixed media works.
Hidalgo’s face which was drawn on an acetate paper is just the start of the (drawing/painting) epic, according to Concepcion. The Hidalgo face is the idea of the museum. He just takes cue from what is being exhibited, which are mostly Hidalgo paintings.
Concepcion lets Hidalgo popped up as a character that he can be seen somewhere from the landscape paintings then becomes a robot in another painting/drawing.
Most of his paintings actually tell stories or myths that he made up on his own – a good part of it originated from what he loves to do as a child. Just like his collective drawings of World War II -inspired airplanes, they are child-like aspect of putting up the photographs together.
Concepcion, who comes from a family of doctors, said he wants people to enjoy his works of art like reading comics only that they have to go around the museum to get the story in a multi-dimensional way.
The Lopez Memorial Museum is being reinvented by using new media particularly installation conceptual art from artist such as Luna and Concepcion. They want to reinvent spaces and pieces not just to become object, but the work of art becomes the museum as a whole because of the execution as a collective work.
“Ang kagandahan sa new media like the installations, you have to experience, you brought in to a point of trying to be there, take something from it, from your point of view,” said Ramirez.
Learn more about Luna and Concepcion’s works currently on display at the Lopez Museum which will run until October 2012.
From the exhibit and the discussions with the artists, I’ve had better understanding of art as an effective tool to tell story about our past, present and future; that art brings out the child in us – carefree and unaffected; that art helps heal, an outlet to talk about things that we fear; that art can somehow effect change without resorting to desperate means; that the meaning and the content of art work is more important than the art itself; that art can make a person a better citizen.
From their respective websites:
Nikki Luna took her Bachelor of Fine Arts major in Painting, in the University of the Philippines. In 2008, she was accepted in the Cooper Union Summer Residency in New York. Luna finds history in the most unlikely places—such as memory and sentiments—and then narrates these wordlessly, through nuanced installations and paintings. www.nikkiluna.com
Ernest Concepcion was born in Manila, Philippines where he received his BFA then moved to the US in 2002. It was in the lonely town of Englewood, New Jersey where he began The Line Wars, a series of black and white drawings depicting opposing forces engaged in ridiculous battle based on the entertainments of childhood and adolescence. www.ernestconcepcion.com