Cover Rocky Cajigan's installation exhibition at MO Space

Marking a new era for the Philippine art scene, the triennial awarding for the game-changing Filipino contemporary artists has formally announced this year's recipients

For the first time, the Cultural Centre of the Philippines (CCP) did the nomination, deliberation, and awarding processes of its triennial Thirteen Artists Awards online. Over 80 artists have qualified, all have taken their part in contributing to the progress of Philippine contemporary art locally and internationally. But as tradition dictates, the award has been given to 13 artists only—all deserving of such recognition and now more eager to continue showcasing their distinctive art. This year's awardees include Allan Balisi, Nice Buenaventura, Gino Bueza, Mars Bugaoan, Rocky Cajigan, Geloy Concepcion, Patrick Cruz, Ian Carlo Jaucian, KoloWn, Czar Kristoff, Lou Lim, Ryan Villamael, and Catherine Sarah Young.

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This year’s selection committee was composed of artists Imelda Cajipe Endaya (13 Artists 1990), Nona Garcia (13 Artists 2003), Nap Jamir II (13 Artists 1974), and Gerry Tan (13 Artists 1988), with Rica Estrada of the CCP Visual Arts and Museum Division. The jurors went through eighty-eight artist portfolios individually, with the final online deliberations held as a group.

The prestigious Thirteen Artists Awards traces back its roots to the phenomenal group of artists in the mid-20th Century who dared to break new grounds for the country's arts signature. The Thirteen Moderns, as they were called, inspired a new breed of artists who veered away from the conservative and formalised approach of the old masters and created a more approachable, thought-provoking, and sensational artistic movement.

In 1970, the CCP Museum Director Roberto Chabet curated the Thirteen Artists exhibit at the CCP Main Gallery from 15 June to 31 July. Chabet’s essay on the exhibition mentioned that the average age of the artists in the exhibition was twenty-eight and that their works in the exhibition "show recentness, a turning-away from past, familiar modes of art-making, a movement towards possibilities and discoveries."

From then on, the term "Thirteen Artists" was used by the renowned institution to award new artists that push the country's artistic soul to a new level. It was first thought to be an annual program but unfortunately skipped a year and was presented again in 1972, with Raymundo Albano at the helm. For five consecutive iterations, from 1972 until 1980, Albano served as the singular selection committee and curator of the exhibitions. In the 1970s, artists in the fields of theatre and film were included in the selection.

By the time a new republic was born, the Thirteen Artists Awards changed to being a communal effort from the local arts community. In 1988, the nominations were requested from local galleries and curators and the CCP Museum (which was later named as Coordinating Centre for Visual Arts), brought together an unnamed review committee of four who will formally set the criteria and deliberate the nominees.

From being annual it became bi-annual, from having six conditions in its criteria down to four, the said awards evolved over time. From 1994 to 2000, it had a long hiatus of six years. Since 2003, it has become a triennial event much anticipated not only by local but also the international arts community.

Get to know the 13 artists who have earned the prestigious honour of being included in the long list of generations of acclaimed Filipino contemporary artists:

1. Allan Balisi

Balisi earned his degree in Advertising Arts from the Far Eastern University. Working predominantly with painting, he’s had solo exhibitions at Blanc Gallery, Silverlens, and West Gallery, among others. He has also been joining local and international group exhibitions since 2005. He was shortlisted for the Ateneo Art Awards in 2009 and 2013. His practice is rooted in his philosophical experimentation on images and tropes from obscure films, and thrifted or found photos.

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2. Nice Buenaventura

Buenaventura received her Bachelor’s degree in Communication from the University of the Philippines and is completing her dual Master’s degree in Media and Arts Technology at the Ateneo de Manila University and Queen Mary, University of London. She has presented solo exhibitions in Areté, Artinformal and West Gallery, and participated in group shows and art-adjacent projects in Bangkok, London, Manila, Melbourne, and Zurich.

Her work often involves an offloading of personal and societal tensions through drawing, painting, installation and new media. This also extends to Tropikalye, an artist-authored, mutual co-learning resource on contemporary Filipino aesthetics.

3. Gino Bueza

Bueza creates works that explore the relationship between words, symbols, meaning, and pictorial treatment. He studied painting at the College of Fine Arts, University of the Philippines, Diliman, and was shortlisted for the Ateneo Art Awards in 2017. He has been actively exhibiting since 2013 and has shown his work in Manila, Singapore, and New York. He also participates in different collaborative projects intended for further understanding, dissemination and appreciation of print media and is involved in publishing art books with local risograph art press, Bad Student.

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4. Mars Bugaoan

Bugaoan received his cum laude degree in Fine Arts from the University of Santo Tomas. Since 2016 he has presented solo exhibitions at Kapitana Gallery, Artinformal, Vinyl on Vinyl, and Pinto Art Museum, and was shortlisted for the Ateneo Art Awards in 2018. He was a participant of the Bellas Artes Projects Namamahay Flash Residency in Bataan, the ABungalow Residency Project in Negros Occidental, as well as the Pasaload Online Residency by Load Na Dito Projects. Bugaoan tells stories of impermanence, survival, and of vulnerability alongside power by experimenting, manipulating, and transforming found or discarded everyday objects. He is an active member of the Association of Pinoyprintmakers.

5. Rocky Cajigan

Cajigan is a visual artist and writer based in La Trinidad, Benguet. He has presented solo exhibitions in Blanc Gallery, Mo Space, and Drawing Room in Manila, and in Neng Sheng Xing Factory in Taiwan for its artist residency program. He also participated in the Kaalo 101 residency program in Nepal in 2019. He was a recipient of the Ateneo Art Awards Fernando Zobel Prize for Visual Art in 2016. In his paintings, installations, and assemblages, Cajigan explores material culture, indigeneity, and museology as entanglements in or possibilities for decolonization. He is part of AX(iS) Art Project, a non-profit artist collective focused on programming events that study access to contemporary art in communities in the Cordillera Region.

6. Geloy Concepcion

Concepcion finished his degree in Advertising at the University of Santo Tomas College of Fine Arts and Design. He started joining exhibitions in 2011 and has exhibited his work in the Philippines, Cambodia, Taiwan, Singapore, India and the Netherlands. He was an artist-in-residence at Casa San Miguel in Zambales from 2012 to 2013, and was a member of Pilipinas Street Plan. His work was included in the 2016 Pride Photo Awards and the 2017 Human Rights Arts and Film Festival. His ever-changing approach to photography is intertwined with his personal journey. His current photographic works stem from experimentation in portraiture, drawing, street art, and life as a migrant Filipino in the U.S.

See also: The State Of The Philippine Art Scene During The Covid-19 Pandemic

7. Patrick Cruz

Cruz is a diasporic Filipino-Canadian artist, organizer and educator. He studied painting at the University of The Philippines Diliman in 2004 and received his Master of Fine Arts at the University of Guelph in 2016; a certificate in clownology in 2011 and a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in 2010. Cruz is a co-founding member of Kamias Special Projects, a curatorial collective that hosts the Kamias Triennial in Quezon City. He was longlisted at the 2019 Sobey Art Award and won the first prize at the 17th annual RBC Canadian Painting Competition. Alongside painting, sculpture and installation, he recently involves cooking, freestyle rapping and curating as an extension of his art practice.

8. Ian Carlo Jaucian

Jaucian has a cum laude degree in painting from the University of the Philippines, College of Fine Arts. His works have been part of exhibitions locally and in Japan, Malaysia, and UAE. He was shortlisted for the Ateneo Art Awards in 2015, 2016 and 2018. He participated in artist residencies at the Akiyoshidai International Artist's Village in Japan, Art Space Mite Ugro in Gwangju, South Korea, and at PulauUbin – The Artist Village in Singapore. His works are often kinetic and interactive experimentations that look into abstract environments, myth-making, data creation and manipulation, and the intersections of technology and daily life. He is currently the Head of Exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design in Manila.

9. KoloWn

The anonymous artist collective initiated by KoloWn works in the intervention of public, indoor and online spaces. They have been utilising crowdsourcing, collaboration and experimenting on automation in the production of their works. They mounted solo shows in Cebu, Manila and Australia, as well as group shows in Cebu, Manila, Bali, Osaka and Canada. They participated in the Manila Biennale in 2018. KoloWn also received the Fernando Zobel Prize for Visual Arts in 2018 for their work "Low Pressured Areas" in the Cultural Centre of the Philippines.

10. Czar Kristoff

Kristoff is an artist, educator, and publisher, interested in (re)construction of space and memory, through concepts of nesting and temporary architecture, for (pedagogical) occupation, using cottage industry publishing—blueprints, xerox, and other low-fidelity printing methods—as his current media of interest. He has exhibited internationally at Showroom MAMA Rotterdam, Jogja National Museum, C3 Artspace Melbourne, Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre, Dansehallerne Copenhagen and locally at MO Space, Drawing Room Gallery and Vargas Museum, to name a few. Kristoff is affiliated with Hardworking Goodlooking, a publishing and design hauz interested in decolonisation, horror vacui and tropical diaspora. He runs Temporary UnReLearning (URL) Academy, a migratory school currently based in CALABARZON, Philippines, interested in queering artistic and cultural production through occupying informal spaces, re-enactments, amplification of vernacular tools and through shadow work/library.

11. Lou Lim

Lim received her Bachelor of Fine Arts, Major in Painting, from the University of the Philippines, College of Fine Arts. In 2015-2016, she participated in the Le Pavillon Neuflize OBC program at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France, where she became a resident at Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris and SeMA Nanji, South Korea. The residency resulted in a collaborative performance at the Opera Garnier, group exhibitions at ICA Singapore and Seoul Museum of Art, and a publication with INA [Institut National Audiovisuel]. She’s presented solo exhibitions in Underground Gallery, West Gallery, and Silverlens Galleries, and has been joining group exhibitions since 2011. Lim invests in the connection between the corporeal and the spiritual, between objects and visual imagery, and in what these relations articulate

12. Ryan Villamael

Villamael obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts, Major in Painting degree from the University of the Philippines. Since then, he’s had major exhibitions in Vargas Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Art Fair Philippines’ special exhibitions program and Ateneo Art Gallery in Manila. He also participated in the 2016 Singapore Biennale and the 2018 Biwako Biennale, and exhibited his work in the MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum in Thailand and Para Site in Hong Kong. In 2015, his exhibition Isles received the Ateneo Art Award. Villamael’s main preoccupation is space—from the literal expansive flatness of paper to the metaphorical representation of a home to a more conceptual re-imagination of a city or a landscape.

Read More: Meet Ryan Villamael: The Filipino Artist Who Turns Paper Into Fantastical Sculptures

13. Catherine Sarah Young

Young graduated with a degree in Molecular Biology & Biotechnology from the University of the Philippines. She then earned her Master’s degree in Interaction Design at the School of Visual Arts in New York and is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in Art and Design at the University of New South Wales in Australia. Since 2012, she’s been participating in solo and group exhibitions in Manila, Melbourne, Beijing, New York, Copenhagen, Seoul, San Francisco, and Vienna. Young uses her background in molecular biology, fine art, and interaction design to create works that investigate nature, our role in nature, and the tensions between nature and technology, exploring themes such as climate change and sustainability, science policy and citizen science, feminism and participatory art, among others.

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