February 11, 2019
Centuries-Old Ifugao Pieces Meet Filipino Abstract Art
For the first time in the Philippines, an impressive collection of traditional Cordillera pieces will be shown in public alongside artworks by 20th and 21st-century Filipino abstract artists.
In an exhibition titled, JUXTA:POSITION, the Hong Kong-based AsianArt:Future (AA:F) chaired by the Swiss art collector Martin Kurer will showcase a stunning collection of tribal art from the Cordilleras together with abstract paintings by Filipino artists at 1335 Mabini Gallery in Makati’s Karrivin Plaza from 16 February to 2 March 2019.
The exhibition comes as a result of Kurer’s particular interest in the universal and widespread use of the aesthetics of reduction, something present he says in bulul (carved wooden figures), which are closely associated with the Ifugao peoples of Northern Luzon.
A three-part book, JUXTA:POSITION (The Aesthetics of Reduction), will feature details on the aestheticism of the carvings of the Cordillera peoples, which Kurer says can also be perceived and described utilising an artistic vocabulary similar to the one of the Abstract Art movement. The second and third parts highlight the bululs, boxes, kinahu, and spoons of the Cordillera peoples, mostly from the 19th century and earlier, and a number of abstract Filipino artworks, as photographed by At Maculangan.
Similar exhibitions have been done before by the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1988 and accompanied by William Rubin’s catalogue The Primitivism of Modern Art, and in 2009 at Fondation Beyeler in Riehen/Basel titled Visual Encounters, Africa, Oceanic, and Modern Art, which showed tribal masterpieces alongside works of Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, Vassily Kandisnky, Rousseau, Constantin Brancusi, Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian, and Mark Rothko.
More recently, the exhibition of Les Collections Barbier-Muller 100 Years of Passion showed tribal art pieces from Africa and Oceania in the context of contemporary art of Baselitz, Jeff Koons, and others.
Each bulul, box or bowl from AsianArt:Future’s collection, most of which were gathered from old collections, assembled in the last century, will be shown with a corresponding artwork from José Joya, Federico Aguilar Alcuaz, H.R. Ocampo, Lee Aguinaldo, Cesar Legaspi, Arturo Luz, Fernando Zóbel, Lao Lianben, and Gus Albor, who created a painting specifically for the exhibition.
Kurer invites the audience to look at the partnered pieces and perhaps spark a dialogue on the aesthetic vocabulary of the two genres of artistic creation, which, on the face of it, may not have much in common.