Art in UP Visayas

By: Martin Genodepa

UP Visayas is privileged to be the recipient of various donations of artworks from artists and alumni, although it initially purchased several from Galerie Dominique, owned by Ilongga Anna Dominique “Nikki” Coseteng, which held several exhibitions at the UPV Auditorium in the late 1970s.

Foremost among the artist donors are National Artist Jose Joya, who as dean of the UP College of Fine Arts, conducted art workshops Iloilo in the mid1970s. Joya consistently gave his drawings to the university when he came to Iloilo. In the mid1980s, he gave to UPV his huge collage, The Tree of Life.

France-based Ofelia Gelvezon-Tequi, a native of Guimbal town, during visits to friends in the university would also leave several viscosity etchings.

National Artist Napoleon Abueva, Edsel Moscoso are among the other artists of renown who had imparted a work or two to UPV.

Artists Nelfa Querubin and Edward Defensor are the two senior Ilonggo artists who have highly contributed to the growth of the UPV art collection.

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Querubin who was doing prints in Manila returned to Iloilo in the 1970s and started to work on local clay and developed her own wood-fired kiln for her ceramic works. She donated to UPV her formative ceramic pieces before she migrated to the United States in 1980s. In 2011, she also turned over to the university her personal copies of her original prints in various techniques.

Defensor, a visual and performing artist who taught in UPV, also shared with the university his paintings, pieces of sculpture, and prints from his own collection upon his retirement.

UPV’s first Chancellor, Dr. Dionisia A. Rola, bequeathed her art collection to the university making her the largest non-artist donor. Dr. Rola’s gift consisted of prints by Arturo Luz and Carlos “Botong” Francisco, paintings by Lito Carating and Darnay Demetillo as well as by local artists she interacted with during her long stay in Iloilo. At 98, Dr. Rola is set bequeathed to UPV another set of artworks from her collection.

An art exhibition titled Aggregation featuring various artists was recently held in UP Visayas. It primarily featured works by Filipino National Artists Benedicto “Bencab” Cabrera, Jose Joya, Ang Kiukok, Cesar Legaspi, Carlos “Botong” Francisco, Arturo Luz, and Napoleon Abueva. Also in this show are paintings, prints, drawings and sculpture by Renato Habulan, Onib Olmedo, Santiago Bose, Nunelucio Alvarado, Elmer Borlongan, Rock Drilon, Charlie Co, Pacita Abad, Brenda Fajardo, Manuel Rodriguez Sr, Marcel Antonio, Cyan Dayrit, Ofelia Gelvezon-Tequi, Nelfa Querubin, Edward Defensor, Timoteo Jumayao, Alan Cabalfin, Harry Mark Gonzales and Marrz Capanang.

Aggregation was an exhibition that celebrated the turnover of the rehabilitated UPV Main Building, the old Iloilo Municipal Building designed by Juan Arellano with sculptures by Francesco Monti at its façade that was donated by the city government in the 1940s so that UP could be have established in the city. The National Historical Commission of the Philippines funded the 44-million-peso rehabilitation project that began in 2017. The exhibition was meant to suggest exciting events to expect from the university now that the building shall be the hub of UPV’s initiatives in art and culture and heritage.

Aggregation was intended to be like very slender coffee table book on art. Like a coffee table book, this show was chiefly meant to entertain viewers and incite a conversation on art. This exhibition’s deficiency in thematic or scholarly intent was compensated for by its overriding goal to engage the academe, alumni art collectors and artists in an inceptive collaborative venture to support the university’s three major functions of teaching, research, and public service.

It is hoped that UP alumni and art collectors will be stirred to share their art collection through the university’s cultural education and exhibition projects or programs following what alumni Rex Aguado, Juvy Janeo, Ed Defensor and Oscar Peñasales including several others who wanted to remain anonymous had set as an example. Because these alumni had generously loaned their art collection to the university on this important occasion, Aggregation was made possible.