Tuesday, February 5, 2013

U.P. Diliman opens New Acquisitions exhibit on February 7, 2013.

The University of the Philippines Diliman, in commemoration of the UP Diliman Month and in celebration of the National Arts Month this February, proudly presents New Acquisitions, an exhibition presenting for the first time new works endowed by artists and friends to the University Art Collection (UAC).

The exhiibit opens Thursday, February 7, at 6 in the evening at the Bulwagan ng Dangal, the University Heritage Museum. Prof. Ruben D.F. Defeo curates the exhibit.

National Artists Napoleon V. Abueva and Abdulmari Asia Imao lead the artists who generously donated their works to the University Art Collectioon. The Joya family gave one work and Senator Edgardo J. Angara donated a sculptural bust done by Imao.

Forty nine artists complete the list, namely: Leo Antonio Abaya, Augusto Albor, Nunelucio Alvarado, Marcel Antonio, Jerusalino Araos, Armand Bacaltos, Pablo Baen-Santos, Grandier Bella, Jeho Bitancor, Benjamin Cabangis, Imelda Cajipe-Endaya, Tomás Javier Calvillo Unna, Norberto Carating, Reynaldo Concepción, Daniel Coquilla, Araceli Dans, Denes Dasco, Dulce Dee, Anton Del Castillo, Norman Dreo, Jes Evangelista, Dakila Fernando, Ofelia Gelvezon-Tequi, Juan Sajid Imao, Toym Imao, Pete Jimenez, Junyee, Lenore RS Lim, Alfredo Liongoren, Julie Lluch, Jesus RW Lozada, Dennis Montera, John Olivares, Mario Parial, Mikel Parial, Gregory Pototsky, Alfredo Roces, Jonahmar Salvosa, Rodolfo Samonte, Jerson Samson, Julius Samson, Popo San Pascual, John Santos, José Danilo Silvestre, Soler, Nestor O. Vinluan, Edwin Wilwayco and Janice Young.

The idea of beefing up the UAC was a brainchild of Professor Defeo who posted in April 2012 on Facebook a clarion call to his artist friends to endow the University Art Collection with landmark works the artists themselves would select. The response was overwhelming.

The works now belong to the University Art Collection. Big or small, they reflect the diverse persuasions of the artistsócelebrating the nobility of the human figure in their constant search for beauty, justice and truth, configuring and distilling from natural forms and occurrences emblems, signs and symbols to concretize imaging as well as other imaginings, or elevating even the most banal to provide fitting platforms for art's often incisive and revelatory commentaries.

The French philosopher and art critic Denis Diderot states: "Happiest are the people who give most happiness to others." This statement is most true and palpable in this exhibition. All the artists included in this collection have generously given more than a fair share of what they do best: their art. In turn, the University of the Philippines proudly presents their works in an exhibition of this scale, affording the artists the opportunity to genuinely share their artistic gifts and ideas with the viewing public at large. They at once become "portraits of philanthropy" as consummate idea whisperer Valaida Fullwood calls them.

In bequeathing to the University of the Philippines works they themselves selected to mark individual milestones in their artistic and professional careers, they have made the institution academically richer in terms of the vivacity of spirit the works construe, the vitality of sensibilities they confront and the vibrancy of styles they celebrate.

Art as donation, performed by the artists themselves and especially endowed to an institution like a university teaching museum, constitutes the highest form of altruism. For indeed, the best way to find oneself, to paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi, is to lose oneself "in the service of others." The very act of donation is a compelling reflection of the artistsí magnanimity to commit their works to deepen and embolden the academic mission of the University as a cultural and heritage repository. That, to say the least, is most rewarding for the institution.

Many of these artists are alumni of this University, who endearingly call UP Naming Mahal their Alma Mater. A few had taught or still continue to teach in the College of Fine Arts. Their coming back to the institution that shaped them to become the celebrated artists they now are is but an endearing gesture and succinct recognition of gratitude. They therefore flesh out what Albert Einstein once pointed out: "It is every man's obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it."

Works that accrue to a museum collection may be assured of exhibition or "display" possibilities at one point in time, one way or the other, notwithstanding the problematic limited space that beleaguers most museums in the world today. The assurance may somehow satisfy the artists' native craving for exposure, secure in the knowledge that several hundreds of pairs of eyes shall behold their works to give them lasting artistic value.

But more than that, these same works may reference landmarks of thoughts and processes that scholars and academics may point out vis-a-vis specific contexts in the intersticing dialogue of art, life and mind.

With these new acquisitions endowed to the University Art Collection, the University of the Philippines Diliman stands proud to carry on its eminent role as an art patron, with all its attendant privileges, if not awesome responsibilities.

The oil magnate and himself a philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. believes "that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity an obligation; every possession a duty."

The University can do no less to permanently preserve all donations in its collection. Aesthetic standards may change over time. Museum caretakers may come and go. Curatorial management of collections may vary. But the University of the Philippines Diliman stands pat to dispatch its role as steward and custodian of the works entrusted her, not to cite the awesome material value they collectively carry. The University commits itself to provide and jostle the aesthetic pleasure of the viewing public, and which the works inherently possess, and thereby ensure that these works are constantly viewed, reviewed and re-reviewed in systematic exhibitions and scholarly discourses to address the changing polemics of Philippine Art History.

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