Cover "Nutribun at Bomba" by Alfredo Esquillo, 2022. oil on ethylene-vinyl acetate, 60.75" x 48"

As we draw closer to the end of May and welcome June, here are some happenings in the local art scene you shouldn't miss

1. Bjorn Calleja at Art Basel Hong Kong

The art of multi-disciplinary creator Bjorn Calleja goes to Art Basel Hong Kong, to be exhibited by blockchain firm TZ APAC and Art Basel from May 27 to 29. Calleja will be part of over 20 contemporary digital artists from around the world to be featured in the said exhibition which is a first-of-its-kind interactive NFT gallery experience.

In line with this year’s theme of ‘NFTs + the Ever-Evolving World of Art’, Katherine Ng, head of marketing and operations at TZ APAC, mentioned that TZ APAC is “excited to showcase especially innovative works that point to NFTs and their limitlessness as a medium, empowering artists as it redefines the scope and scale of today’s art world in the digital age.”

“I think as a contemporary artist minting NFTs, the value should exceed utility and marketing gimmicks, nothing against them but I understand that it’s a long game and there is more to Art than these tangibles,” Calleja’s remarks on NFTs, which are unique digital assets on the blockchain.

Read more: Art Fair PH Featured Artist Bjorn Calleja on Navigating the Future of Art

2. Leeroy New at the Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City

Ateneo Art Gallery celebrated International Museum Day with the launch of its anthology book Harvest Moon, which tackles the climate crisis through poems, stories, and essays. Alongside this, Asia's Most Influential 2021 Honouree Leeroy New mounted a gigantic art installation at the Wong Chu King Foundation Cove, Ateneo College Batch 1980 Cove, and the Eli and Elizabeth Hubahib Cove located at the Areté Amphitheatre.

Titled Mebuyan's Colony, the work marries New's continuing fascination with Philippine mythology and science fiction through giant spherical shapes made of bamboo stilts. The title refers to the Bagobo goddess of death and fertility. Additionally, New collaborated with environmental scientist Jose Felix to transform Mebuyan's Colony into a work that would showcase different agricultural systems integrated into different pods. This makes diverse flora grow on the interior and exterior of the pods, allowing fruit-bearing vines to thrive, that people may check throughout the year until March 2023.

Read also: AR Art Trail at Art Fair Philippines 2022: Watch Leeroy New's Creatures Come to Life

3. European Union in the Philippines, Yuchengco Museum, Makati

In collaboration with the Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines, Yuchengco Museum mounts a group exhibition that explores waves as a subject of art interpretation. Through paintings, prints, photography, and sculptures, artists from the Philippines and some European countries deconstruct the wonders of water in all its forms, showing its beauty, importance, and symbolism, as well as its wrath. 

Curated by César Caballero, the "Ebb and Flow: Return to Nature" exhibition features works by Kizel Cotiw-an (Philippines), Ramon and Romina Diaz (Philippines and Italy), Louis Dumont (Belgium), Henri Etéve (France), Jeanette Kamphuis (Sweden), Radha Makitalo (Finland), Fara Manuel Nolasco (Philippines), Ann Pamintuan (Philippines), René Reiter (Germany), and Viviana Riccelli (Italy).

The exhibition is part of the Viva Europa 2022 cultural festival, which aims to highlight shared European cultural heritage with Filipinos. This is also in celebration of the founding of the European Union.  The exhibition fittingly coincides with the EU Green Week (May 30 to June 5) and the lead-up to the UN Ocean’s Conference (Lisbon, June 27 to July 1, 2022).

4. Silverlens Galleries, Makati

Pay a visit to Silverlens and be mesmerised by Alfredo Esquillo's solo exhibition "Bread and Circuses" and Patricia Perez Eustaquio's eponymous solo show, running from May 19 to June 18.

In "Bread and Circuses", Esquillo compares the Roman Empire's distraction scheme for its populace to that of the Philippine government in the '70s up to the present day. "Through paintings and sculptures, Esquillo reflects deeply as he artistically essays recurring signs and symbols concerning politics, culture, and technology--in relation to misappropriated policies of our past and incumbent presidents–as we have been endowed by sheer short memories of the past," Jay Bautista wrote in his exhibition notes.

Meanwhile, Eustaquio showcases soft fabric sculptures and drawings on paper, exploring the process of translating art from one form to another. Here, you will find her digital loom tapestries rendered in graphite and see how each piece differs depending on the coloured paper used. "They surprisingly look complicated with deep intention yet are ornamental and cuddly at the same time; oscillating tendencies that lend well to facing the harsh realities of life indirectly without refusing to live with it," Josephine Roque explained in her exhibition notes.

Read also: The Creative List: Art, Architecture, and Design

5. Art Lounge Manila, Alabang, Muntinlupa

One of the country's most sought after sculptors, Michael Cacnio, takes the "bull" as his subject in this exhibition befittingly titled, "Taurus". A usual art subject to symbolise man's progress, strength, and authority, the bull is further explored by Cacnio by taking a closer look at Filipino daily life and values. "The works aim to be an encouragement that we should charge unrelentingly toward hope, and it does so by telling a story and creating a metaphor, which is the bull," said curator Cindel Tiausas. The exhibition runs until May 28 at Art Lounge Manila's newest branch at Molito Lifestyle Centre, Alabang, Muntinlupa.

6. Qube Contemporary Gallery, Cebu

Before it ends on May 31, catch contemporary artist Ryan Uy's second solo show titled "A Remembrance of Rain" at the Qube Contemporary Gallery in Cebu. A follow-up of his first exhibition marked by his father's passing with works in sombre blacks, blues, and greys, his second exhibition featured pieces in ebullient shades of green, yellow, and pink.

"I guess I was just painting from a happy place. A sign that I have moved on from that painful chapter of my life. Even I am surprised [with the colours I used] because I have always gravitated towards using dark, almost monochromatic tones,” shares the self-taught artist.

Consisting of 18 paintings, most of which still "feature his signature faceless boys and girls, the exhibit bears a palpable sense of hope and newfound enthusiasm," as described by Ron Gonzales in his exhibition notes.

7. Cultural Centre of the Philippines, Manila

The Cultural Centre of the Philippines (CCP), in partnership with PinoyLUG, and with support from the Fernando C. Amorsolo Foundation, Inc, presents "Project AMORsolo," an exhibition of LEGO® Bricks Mosaic artworks in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the proclamation of Fernando C Amorsolo as the first National Artist of the Philippines in Visual Arts. The exhibition runs until May 29, 2022 at the CCP’s Bulwagang Carlos V Francisco (Little Theater Lobby).

The project, which commenced back in 2021, was set into motion under Code Name: AMOR with three teams of LEGO enthusiasts each working separately on plates for three iconic paintings for Amorsolo. Using certified genuine LEGO bricks, each team created artworks that bridge the past with the present, while bonding with co-builders to strengthen them as a team, just like LEGO.

"Project AMORsolo" is a story of love and resilience in a family of LEGO fans looking toward future generations who would create something new from the pieces of their past. It is a celebration of achievement through dedication, persistence, sharing, and building together which are the guiding principles of PinoyLUG.

PinoyLUG’s "Project: AMORsolo" exhibit may be viewed from Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am to 6 pm.

8. Kristine Lim and Jonathan Manalo at Intramuros, Manila

Mother and missionary visual artist, Kristine Lim, remains in full speed with her third art installation in Intramuros, Manila, presented by the Department of Tourism. Mounting the art installation, "Ugoy", in time for Mother’s Day and the election season, Lim made 18 beautiful cradle nests to grace the grounds of Intramuros, Manila. To breathe further emotion into the project and ignite a more moving experience, award-winning songwriter Jonathan Manalo added music to the art installation.

Lim described the ABS-CBN Music Creative Director's song for her art installation as “a beautifully combined and ethereal melody, voice and rhythm we can rest on as we ponder on what it means to be cradled by our motherland we must uphold, honour, and care for. A call for realisation that every Filipino, young, old, regardless of gender and status, are the real mothers of our nation.”

Read also: The "Women of Impact" 2022 List: Filipinas Who Have Made Their Mark

"Ugoy" is presented by the Department of Tourism, It’s More Fun In The Philippines, Intramuros Administration, Art Lounge Manila, Philippine Franchise Association, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and I Love Mom Movement; with the participation of Sustainable PH, Christian Collective, Artists on a Mission Workshops, OM Philippines and AOR Global.

The art installation can be viewed at Fort Santiago, Intramuros, Manila for the whole month of May.

Read also: Philippines in the Hands of Mothers: Does the Country Need More Female Leaders?

9. Larry Alcala, SMX Convention Centre, BGC

The Metropolitan Museum of Manila (M) and Filipino Heritage Festival Inc (FHFI), with the support of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and SM, present the exhibition "Larry Alcala: Slices of Life, Wit, and Humour" at the SMX Convention Center Aura in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig from May 31 to June 6, 2022. This special offering explores Filipino comics and illustrations as popular and enduring art forms that channel humour alongside hard-hitting commentary about Philippine society.

Read also: The M: Its 45-Year-History and a Sneak Peek of its New Space at BGC, Taguig

Featuring a collection of archival reproduction of comics and tribute works in drawing, print, and digital media, "Larry Alcala: Slices of Life, Wit, and Humour" is a testament to the endurance and timeliness of Alcala’s observations, candour, and wit through visual form. The exhibition honours National Artist for Visual Arts Lauro ‘Larry’ Alcala Sr in celebration of National Heritage Month. The M complements the exhibition at SMX Convention Center Aura with online public programs for kids and adults in June-July 2022 led by contemporary artists and arts practitioners.

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