Art ‘thrives’

An artistic process grounded on the principle of transferring images from a matrix onto other mediums, more often than not in paper or fabric, printmaking is an emerging art form in the country that needs and deserves more exposure. This fact was made apparent in a recent private dinner I’ve had with the president of the Philippine Association of Printmakers (AP), Ambie Abaño, Manila-based artist and member of AP, Yas Doctor, former president of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and former chairman of the board of trustees of the De la Salle College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB), Nestor Jardin, management consultant and art enthusiast, Zeny Inglesias, and prolific author and Manila Bulletin lifestyle editor, AA Patawaran, in Conrad, Manila to celebrate the success of the digital launch of ‘Of Art and Wine.’

The curtain-fundraiser art event organized by Nestor, ‘Of Art and Wine,’ stays true to its goal of promoting local artists and their craft. The ensemble series returns to the hotel-by-the-bay’s 34 meters long and six and a half meters high wall of Gallery C, where it is ceremoniously held for four years and running. Now on its 14th edition, the campaign features AP and its 20 artists whose collective work of over 30 pieces highlights the art community’s endeavor to conform to the new Covid-world. In light of the global health emergency, this year’s installment was initiated online. 

Who says print is dying?

Printmaking gained its popularity in the country during the early ‘60s through Manuel Rodrigo Sr. and Rodolfo Paras-Perez, who came to be known as the “Father of Philippine Printmaking.” Among similar art forms like painting and drawing, print is arguably the less explored, however, nowadays it is becoming more and more popular with the resurgence of art urged by the quarantine. It is also one of the oldest art forms whose origins can be traced back to the prehistoric era. Print has evolved throughout the years due to the discovery of various printing materials. For context, one very iconic printmaking artwork is Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai‘s The Underwave off Kanagawa, color woodcut, from the Rijksmuseum Collection. I had learned a great deal from the knowledgeable and eager artists Yas and Ambie on printmaking from traditional techniques such as woodcut, etching, engraving, and lithography, to the modern screen printing.

Even without the actual serving of wine, it was a fine evening thanks to the meaningful discussions, good company, the delicious spread from China Blue, the restaurant right beside the exhibit, and the marvelous print artworks.

As we finished our meal, Nestor expounds on the concept behind his brainchild, a marriage between the art of wine with visual arts including paintings, sculptures, wall art in decorative pieces by local artists. For 2021, the arts manager and cultural executive wanted to start the year with an exhibit. His original plan was to use CCP’s 40th-anniversary collection, however, the artworks were already sold out, prompting him to tap on AP.

An artistic process grounded on the principle of transferring images from a matrix onto other mediums, more often than not in paper or fabric, printmaking is an emerging art form in the country that needs and deserves more exposure.

Thriving fast

Zeny also explains “Thrive,” the event’s theme and exhibit this year. “It’s the new year, and we’re all looking forward. We progress in spite of the circumstances,” she says. True enough, art prospers in the face of uncertainty, much like how the Dark Ages paved way to the Renaissance, a time of great scientific and artistic revolution. In the Philippines, the arts and creative industries have been rising above the occasion with the emergence of new talents, and the reinvention of existing ones. “The exhibit’s theme, ‘Thrive,’ resonates perfectly with Conrad Manila’s commitment to stay strong and resolute for the institution, the industry, and the country. It’s a perfect reminder for us to remain focused on what is important to transform our future,” Conrad Manila’s general manager and art enthusiast Linda Pecoraro, said earlier that day at the online launch. Later that night, the Australian-Italian GM passed by our table to say hello but was unable to join us as she was doing her rounds at the hotel. 

ART SAVANTE Conrad GM Linda Pecoraro

The exhibit embodies AP’s belief that the role of artists has always been to observe, reflect, and translate everything to tactile units through various media to create art that celebrates life conveying reflective narratives through printmaking. It is worth noting that two prints of contemporary artist Ronald Ventura are present in the gallery.

On the state of printmaking in the Philippines, “thriving” is the best word to describe it. “There’s a growing appreciation for printmaking, mostly from the younger generation,” says Ambie. “We noticed that in art events and fairs, it’s [printmaking] is always big. The appreciation is definitely wider now. Before compared to painting, people frown on printmaking, with the misconception that prints are just works on paper. The thinking then was that paintings would last longer than prints,” she adds.

“The younger generation now don’t care. ‘This is work on paper, I don’t care. I want it.’ You know?” Ambie beams. “Now, the way of appreciation is ‘because I like it [the art work].’ Of course, it’s also the exposure of these younger generations to art outside [the country],” she ends.

Nestor adds to Ambie’s statement. “In the economic point of view, prints are generally more affordable than acrylic or oil. Because young professionals can afford it more, it is the perfect start if you want to collect art,” he concludes.

“Of Art and Wine: Thrive” displays artworks of AP and will run for purchase at the Gallery C of Conrad Manila, Seaside Boulevard, Coral Way, Pasay, until Feb. 19, 2021. It is also available for online viewing via and at Conrad Manila’s Facebook | 8833-9999.

Source: Manila Bulletin (