(SPOT.ph) Artists Elmer Borlongan (from Manila), Mark Justiniani (from Bacolod), and Emmanuel Garibay (from North Cotabato) first crossed paths in the '80s, at the height of chaos and social turmoil post-People Power. They found themselves often collaborating on politically charged artworks as members of Artista ng Bayan (a.k.a. ABAY), Salingpusa, and Sanggawa. They have since gone different ways to make their own marks in the landscape of contemporary Filipino art.
More than two decades later, the three reunite through a large-scale mural that will be unveiled at Art Fair Philippines 2017 on February 16 at The Link, Makati. "Last year, I spoke with them to propose a collaboration for a big mural to be executed by the three of them for Art Fair Philippines," starts Gigo Alampay, Executive Director of Center for Art, New Ventures, and Sustainable Development. Also known as CANVAS, the non-profit organization has been commissioning collaborative murals as part of their effort to push public art to the masses. "Knowing the caliber and reputation of all three, we knew that not only would such a mural generate excitement, more importantly, I trusted that they would come up with a piece that would resonate and be very relevant to these uncertain times," Alampay continues.
“Tagadagat,” an oil-on-canvas mural with the size of 8 x 24 feet, was conceptualized and executed in a period of five days in a farm in Batangas. The venue will start to host CANVAS' artist residencies in a few years and will soon be the site of the organization's Children's Museum of Philippine Art.
“Tagadagat is their boat. Only by pulling together could they rise to deliver the image," Alampay says of the artwork which reflects an image of a boat carrying various Filipino characters and personas. There are figures that reflect Buddhism and Catholicism, the face of capitalism as reflected by a businessman with a farmer's sickle, and a pregnant woman holding a dead eagle. A man and a woman on opposite ends row in different directions, rendering the boat motionless and not really going anywhere. In the center, a head has two faces, seemingly unaware of its identity.
"We all have our individual dreams, fears, aspirations, ambitions, philosophies, religions, beliefs and egos...But, always, we have to remember: We rise and fall with everyone. We are all in the same boat," Alampay concludes.
Art Fair Philippines 2017 is from February 16 to 19, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at The Link, Parkway Drive, Ayala Center, Makati City. Tickets are at P250. For more information, visit Art Fair Philippines' website.