ALLEGORIES AND REALITIES Ofelia Gelvezon-Tequi: In Retrospect

Literature and art history strongly influence the works of Ofelia Gelvezon-Tequi. Earning two degrees in Fine Arts and English from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, her approach to image making emanates from her deep understanding of the literary and visual arts. Close friend and fellow artist Nonon Padilla once noted that “the world of the divine is very much present in” Gelvezon-Tequi’s works. She has been highly acclaimed for her use of allegory to express and articulate statements on social ills and current struggles. Culled from medieval manuscript illustrations and biblical texts, her series of prints in the mid-1980s were filled with images of the sacred juxtaposed alongside the ordinary and everyday. Yet her works are also heavily grounded on the real and personal — family life and losses, greed and corruption, the turbulent political climate, or simply a row of trees, a lush garden or a still life.

Referring to Gelvezon-Tequi’s prints and paintings, Leonidas Benesa notes a strong sense of “nostalgia for the past… but the idiom is pop, even folk” in her works. Aside from appropriating medieval texts, she also explored silk painting (an old Asian practice) with aniline pigments and adopted the format of the anting-anting for a series of prints. Religious personages are rendered with as ordinary folks — familiar and with warmth. Her more recent painted works assume similar qualities — composed in a hierarchical scheme, figures float in minimalist almost blank backgrounds as in medieval illuminations and frescos.

Ofelia Gelvezon-Tequi maintains a consistent presence in the local art scene. She exerts that although based in France, “I don’t address myself to the French, but to Filipinos.” Hers is a voice empathic of the conditions of the marginalized and critical of the foibles of the dominant.

Time & Location

22 February to 24 May 2020

Bulwagang Juan Luna (Main Gallery)