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Lay of the Land

Lay of the Land

The young have always concerned themselves to be veering on the radical and contemporary. Comprised of large-scale artworks, sculptures and installations, Eskinita Art Farm presents a selection of its four-year Tuklas mentees for this year’s edition of Art Fair Philippines. Expressing their self-taught metaphors reflecting their experimental yet distinct, confident yet sensitive brushstrokes and sculpting concepts.


Flaunting the Imperfections
Jay Bautista

The young have always concerned themselves to be veering on the radical and contemporary. Comprised of large-scale artworks, sculptures and installations, Eskinita Art Farm presents a selection of its four-year Tuklas mentees for this year’s edition of Art Fair Philippines. Expressing their self-taught metaphors reflecting their experimental yet distinct, confident yet sensitive brushstrokes and sculpting concepts.

Freshly-ushered in the art scene, these young artists were mostly students of fine arts and other art-related disciplines, Eskinita Art Farm founder Alfredo Esquillo together with his mentor, social realist Renato Habulan, personally handpicked them for showing their promising potential to create. Most of them were already having exhibits in local art galleries and a number have already been recognized in national art competitions for their authentic visual language and in finding organic approaches to painting and sculpture.

Among the prevalent themes of these Tuklas mentees were a steady mix of the personal and the political while being domesticated during the ongoing pandemic. There seems to be constant prevalence of plurality of the emerging present as their obvious expressions. Philippine contemporary art still revolves around national identity, socio-politics, moral spirituality, environment and inherent memories as their acquiring issues. Tuklas mentees explore the recurring heterogeneity topics that have been constant to their lives. Some painted lush vegetation such as fertile landscapes and the peril warning of the earth’s demise. Others evoke surreal exploration of the good to the minutest illustrative detail. One simplified brokenness while confined inside his home. Staple brushstrokes still evolve standard social realist stance like using the barong tagalog as a signifier of graft and corruption–their collective direction is long but promising and they are all getting there, in their fast evolving changing visual styles.

Personal is Political
Exploring pure fantasies from within by creating their own small worlds, most Tuklas mentees invoked the vivid surrealism of their own lucid imagination. Using their own adopted materiality and relied much of inherent wonder, what is being witnessed is a plethora of organic beings with adapted characterizations and culture. A number heavily-endured on domesticity, memory and longing. For two years now, they can only create what they are constantly exposed to—their selves at home. Yet they are still grateful to appreciate the everyday and what they remain to value despite the bad and deeper tragedies that has collectively happened to us and the nation since the coronavirus disease.

Political is Personal
Grappling with pressing political agenda close to their hearts’ content, a few artists too young to be born when it happened, tackled martial law and its evil discontents. Fnding parallelism with President Rodrigo Duterte and his extra judicial killings and rampant abuse pf power in the context of the diverging classes are loudly visualized to their full bravura and finite details. One feels even part of the extended canvas–about to join in. Abandoning grand narratives, these artists chose to depict where they are and how they feel strongly about it.

For these Tuklas mentees painting still become a reaction against circumstances that persists in their everyday undertakings–be it intimate, peculiar or communal. It has become their natural creative reply in making something out of nothing; that you have a say and even invited to a seat at the art world table. These Tuklas mentees weave all these artist’s concerns not merely as a conscious interlude of colors, illustrations and other medium but as something that is originally perceived in their fragile yet fertile imagination. Unlike the previous generation of committed artists, much of these contemporary artists have a more sense of self, an inward perspective on their art. They are more versed with present-day pictorial idioms.

This group exhibition is a feast–as it is a validation of the exhibiting artists own contents, intents and permutations. Stressing the value of spontaneity, appropriation and relevance in their expressions, most paintings even establish inherent tension and issues. They may not be as colorful and lyrical as their other fellow millennial artists but have their own rhythm and essential elements. They may not be commercially-eye candy pieces but it is their subtlety or even harshness that convey their sense of wonder in these painters’ free reign of imagery and meaning.

Even as they are open to more raw approaches to art, they still value that paintings and sculptures should be created for its social function and redeeming value aside from being decorative. Today’s brand of realism has always constricted and countered the traditional genres for it to redefine itself into new actualities on its own right. Often rejecting the banal and sacred, it defies fixation with the tested norm. In its proximity to the art center that was Manila then, these artists may be hinted with copying established painters as frames of reference for commercial or aesthetic purposes yet practicing in the peripheries have taught them new and fresh perspectives they have conceptualized their own distinct and evocative expressions.

These Tuklas artists step up to the plate and offer some of the purest and relevant expressions emanating here. Tuklas mentees are striking for its diversity and richness. It has no shared style or desired intentions yet a common thread persists that individually they are capable of commitment to the craft. Collectively they push the cause what and how Philippine Contemporary Art is creatively shaping up.

This is where Tuklas mentees intervene, as it deems to create that critical dialogue of what is contemporary and being in the now for those who wish to be part of the discussion.

Time & Location

Eskinita Art Gallery

23 Mar to 1 Apr 2022

59-c Paseo de Roxas, Brgy. Urdanetaa, Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines 1225