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Alfonso Ossorio, Global Filipino artist

Saturday, 29 April 2017 00:00 Published in Life Style

Light that reflects close from source, usually to emphasize texture, strengthen surfaces and highlight shadows, is known as grazing light.
The way Leon Gallery mounts Alfonso Ossorio’s two groundbreaking exhibits in the Philippines ―— “Afflictions of Glory: A Representative Selection of His Work,” 16 incredible works specifically to mark his 100th birth anniversary in 2016; and “Alfonso Ossorio: Grazing Light,” 19 astonishing works now on view ―— attempts to re-examine Ossorio’s art and life in a new light.
Ossorio’s pioneering exhibits are made possible by the amazing triumvirate of Leon Gallery owner Jaime Ponce de Leon and curators Liliane Manahan, a formally trained art conservator, and Lizza Guerrero Nakpil. They are triumphant in introducing Ossorio in sparkling splendor.
Both exhibits display Ossorio’s representative works from his active creative term (1942 to 1989) in elegant sight-and-sound presentation complete with evocative cocktails that give the gentle impact of total one-of-kind experiences.
Born into a landed Filipino family with the Spanish genes of his father, Don Miguel Ossorio, and the Chinese DNA of his mother, Ma. Paz Yangco, Ossorio later chose American citizenship for a residency permit, making him Filipino-American. His multicultural nature prepared him early on for a global mindset. Although he had an identity struggle from his own family, he stood pat on what he was and made something of himself, a forerunner of the LGBT community.

ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM. American Abstract Expressionism is a modern art movement based on Pollock’s spontaneous, automatic or subconscious painting technique done on a canvas laid on the floor, which he initiated in New York in the 1940s.
Referenced as the first specifically American art movement to achieve international recognition, Abstract Expressionism put New York City at the epicenter of the western art world, unseating Paris as the capital of modern art. This made it an American franchise exclusive to natural citizens.
Edwin Wilwayco anonymously referred to a Filipino artist who influenced Pollock in an one-on-one interview with this writer, describing how he poured oil and enamel paints onto a canvas. I got a hint of this artist’s identity when León Gallery mounted the “Afflictions of Glory” exhibit.
Only Ossorio qualifies in the distinction as he is the only Filipino artist who maintained friendship and professional association with Pollock in their lifetime. Being abstract expressionists is the unmistakable link that binds them.
John Seed provided the specific answer in “Alfonso Ossorio (1916-1990): Gorgeously Out of Touch with Reality”: “Yes, Pollock influenced Ossorio and helped him break through into fresh artistic territory, but Ossorio also apparently later returned the favor and influenced Pollock. Some of Pollock’s late Black Pourings are now said to have ‘striking affinities’ with earlier, semi-figurative works by Ossorio.”
Pollock encouraged Ossorio to meet Jean Dubuffet in Paris and imbibed his Art Brut (“raw art”). Often referred to as “outsider art,” it is art produced by non-professionals working outside aesthetic norms as they contain more art and poetry than academic art.
Dubuffet observed the almost magical transformation that takes place in an Ossorio work on paper: “In Ossorio’s eyes, the embodiment of things seems fortuitous, as inessential as the fact, for example, that gas may assume a liquid state. Each body seems to him as a spirit occasionally passing into a field where human eyes can perceive it.”
Having mastered American Abstract Expressionism and European Art Brut, Ossorio distilled his West-West influences to come up with an East original.
For the only 10-month homecoming in 1950 with Dragon to the land of his birth, he executed on the magnificent 36’ x 20’ mural entitled “The Last Judgment with the Holy Spirit” in the St. Joseph the Worker Chapel inside the family-owned Victorias Milling Company in Victorias, Negros Occidental. “Life” magazine later dubbed it as “The Angry Christ.”
A fierce-looking Jesus Christ, being offered by the massive hands of God the Father, his arms spread in crucifixion position, overlooks worshippers. The Holy Spirit projects ethereal light on the altar table from a square opening from the ceiling. This fluidly merged abstraction and representation, certainly a creative feat in its time.

AN AMERICAN BIAS. Ossorio’s reputation as a visual artist was weighed down by a bias. Starting as the principal patron of Pollock and his financial benefactor, he was dubbed as a dabbler, a person who cultivated an interest in the arts without real commitment. His work as a medical illustrator did not enhance it. His art often characterized as non-conformist, these unfair attributions overshadowed his achievements as artist.
Filipinos were baffled why Ossorio did not claim the distinction he deserved. This was probably due to influential visual art critic Clement Greenberg’s “patron critics” practice. Such critics elevated their protégés by casting other artists as “followers” or ignoring those who did not serve their promotional goal.
Greenberg proclaimed Pollock as the epitome of aesthetic value. He included the color field painters and most of the American artists who have become household names by the late 1940s. Ossorio must have failed to polarize like Pollock’s work did so he was treated as a nobody despite the intrinsic accomplishments of his works.
But legitimate art authorities did not let him get away. “Angels, Demons and Savages: Pollock, Ossorio, Dubuffet,” the milestone 2013 exhibit of the Phillips Collection in Washington and Parrish Art Museum in New York tackled the thesis how West meets West meets East through the art of Pollock and Dubuffet through the pivotal role of Ossorio.
Leon Gallery spearheads the current impressive resurrection of Ossorio. By initiating his dual exhibits and hammering rare works in its quarterly auctions with media coverages, De Leon Gallery’s dazzling reintroduction of Ossorio to the Philippine art market.

FORERUNNER. Ossorio did not hide it, but lived his gay identity when it was largely an illegal issue. He shortly married an American female, Bridget Hubrecht, but his mother registered her disagreement so it ended in divorce.
Ted Dragon became his domestic partner and they lived in famed The Creeks Estate in South Hampton New York. Pollock encouraged him to purchase it, the wealthy immigrant that he was. Dragon inherited it when Ossorio passed on in 1990.
It became the repository of Ossorio’s huge art collection and the center of the Ossorio Foundation that Dragon founded in 1994 in South Hampton NY to perpetuate his art legacy.
The Ossorio Foundation website reads: “Today the Foundation remains dedicated to providing greater public access to the life and art of Alfonso Ossorio. With its collection of nearly 500 works on paper, oils, and assemblages, the Foundation arranges for gift, sale and lease agreements for placement worldwide.”
In multi-cultural importance, Ossorio ranks with western-educated Filipino painters albeit he had no political agenda. His The Angry Christ measures in originality and creative impact with Juan Luna’s Spoliarium and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo’s The Assassination of Gov. Bustamante.
This makes him a Global Filipino Artist along with Anita Magsaysay-Ho, the only female member of The Thirteen Moderns that promulgated the modern art movement in the Philippines in 1958. Also effant terrible David Medalla, who pioneered kinetic art with his Bubble Machines, installations and performance art.
They could all have been National Artists for Visual Arts, but because of their global orientation and nationality, they wer unqualified for the prestigious national awards. “Global” had not been coined back then.
The “Alfonso Ossorio: Grazing Light” from the collection of younger brother Frederic Ossorio runs from April 21 to May 12, 2017 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the ground floor of Corinthian Plaza, Paseo de Roxas corner Gamboa St. Salcedo Village, Makati City. Guided tours by appointment only.


Luck or love?

Saturday, 29 April 2017 00:00 Published in Life Style

New movie takes romance on a fresh spin

Actress Bela Padilla was listening to the radio one day when the idea for a movie popped in her mind.
“Nasa kotse ako, nakikinig ng conversation ng DJs sa radio. Tapos, naisip ko ‘yung title, du’n nabuo ang story. Tungkol siya sa dalawang tao na sinuswerte kapag may physical touch sila,” she relates.

Luck at First Sight was born.
Padilla, apparently, wanted a return to a kind of innocence in these jaded times. “Ako, gusto ko makapanood ng konting feeling ng magic, parang maniniwala ka uli sa isang bagay na hindi mo nakikita. Sa totoong buhay, naniniwala ako sa swerte, ibang forms lang siguro.”
There was only one director she believed could make the movie, and Dan Villegas came on board.
“Nu’ng nag-iisip na kami kung sino ang kukuning direktor, sabi namin, dapat si Direk Dan ito. Sobrang galing kasi niya, sobrang ganda ng shots saka gusto naming ma-touch din ang point of view ng lalaki sa pelikula,” Bela explains.
Villegas was excited to take on the project.
“Ang difference nito sa mga nagawa ko na, yung dati, rooted on reality ― kung ano ang nangyayari sa totoong buhay. Kaya na-excite ako rito kasi may magic element, ‘di realistic. Medyo hyper realistic siya, magical, fantastic,” he says.
It was his first time to make such a movie, he reveals, and decided to tackle it with as much spontaneity as possible. “I just put the actors in front of the camera and let them do their thing,” he laughs.
“First time kong gumawa ng ganito, so minsan, ‘yung pagtimpla ng mga eksena, mapapaisip ka exaggerated na ba ‘to, baka masyadong mababaw o matigas. Rom-com siya, pero may magic realism element,” he adds.
This, he explains, gives the film a different layer of comedy.
The actors, the Villegas notes, are also another magical ingredient in the film. Viva Films and N2 Productions bring to the big screen a Joyce Bernal production that pairs off Asian Drama King, Jericho Rosales and Primetime TV Gem, Bela Padilla for the first time.
From the get-go, it seems the film has all the magical elements needed to be a super-hit.
And with this combination of talents — the same team that gave us the phenomenal box-office hit, Camp Sawi, the director of mega-blockbuster movies like Always Be My Maybe and #WalangForever, plus the fresh pairing of Bela and Echo — this may well be the year’s most enchanting romance-comedy.
In the movie, Jericho is Joma Labayen, a down-on-his-luck guy who believes that a “life charm” could help make for him a rosy existence despite the drudgery of everyday living. By accident and by some stroke of fate, he meets Diane de la Cruz (Bela), who he thinks is his “life charm.” Little does he know their encounters would lead him to the toughest choice his heart will ever make: luck or love.
Diane, however, is no sucker for stories of luck and/or life charms. She is a firm believer of love and how romance sheds light, beauty and happiness to one’s being. Their partnership proves lucky enough until they discover that choosing between luck and love can be a tough pick.
Echo admits he had great fun playing an over-the-top character. He says he has never played such an exaggerated role, but Bela is quick to say he is quite adept and effective in the role. Her leading man then waxes poetic about the depth of her talent.
Both are, obviously, totally absorbed by the project. In fact, they reveal that they swore to each other this would be the best movie they would make together.
According to direk Villegas, the whole cast has great chemistry, and he is positive this only bodes well for the movie, which opens on May 3. 

Can love win in a competition?

Saturday, 29 April 2017 00:00 Published in Life Style

Kimerald reunites, stars in new daytime drama

The story of two people who will strive to reach for their dreams and fight for their true love, featuring the most-awaited television reunion of Kim Chiu and Gerald Anderson, is set in the world of trialthlon.
From Sana Maulit Muli, My Girl, Your Song, Tayong Dalawa and Kung Tayo’y Magkakalayo, Kimerald is once again reunited to star in a daytime drama, Ikaw Lang Ang Iibigin. Fans should also watch out for the newest tandem of Jake Cuenca and Coleen Garcia in the series. These two will figure strongly in the relationship between the protagonists.
In the story, Bianca (Kim Chiu) and Gabriel (Gerald Anderson) are childhood friends who are both determined to give their families a bright future. Bianca, inspired by her former athete of a mom, aspires to become a successful triathlete to provide for their needs. Gabriel also carries the same aspirations, facing life’s struggles head on for his family. As they reach for their dreams, they also experience love for the first time together.
However, they eventually part ways as Bianca leaves their province to save her father’s life from his illness.
They take on different journeys that keep them away from each other. But love will reunite their paths as they once again see each other in a triathlon event of TigerShark, headed by Carlos (Jake Cuenca), the man who will come between their love.
Being the number one triathlete in the country, Carlos is not used to failure and always seeks the approval of his father. To further ensure the success of his company, he hires Bianca as an endorser, but later on falls for her, to the dismay of his ex-girlfriend Isabelle (Coleen Garcia).
This sparks the battle between Carlos and Gabriel not only in triathlon, but also for Bianca’s love. Their fight for their love and dreams also gets even more complicated as secrets from the past threaten to destroy their love and their lives.
Also part of the cast are Gina Pareño, Bing Loyzaga, Ayen Munji-Laurel, Michael De Mesa, Daniel Fernando, Dante Rivero, Nicco Manalo, Ivan Carpiet, Andrea Brillantes, and Grae Fernandez. It is directed by Dan Villegas and Onat Diaz and written by Noreen Capili and Anton Pelon.
Ikaw Lang Ang Iibigin will premiere on May 1 right before It’s Showtime.

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