National Artists Bienvenido Lumbera, F. Sionil Jose clash over "Kulo" exhibit

( While National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera openly declared his support for the "Kulo" art exhibit, his fellow National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose expressed disdain for the controversial display, reports ABS-CBN News. Jose outlined his sentiments yesterday, August 15,  in an article titled "The CCP Jesus Christ exhibit: It ain’t art" for his The Philippine Star column, Hindsight.


"(’Kulo’) is not-I repeat-it is not art! It is an immature and juvenile attempt at caricature. I have not seen the exhibit itself but I have seen pictures of it and they are enough to convince me of the validity of my conclusion," wrote Jose. A former gallery operator himself, Jose added that the Cultural Center of the Philippines should have rejected the exhibit from the beginning.


While Lumbera earlier said that an artist "should be allowed the freedom to create what he thinks is art," Jose believes that art nowadays has "so much anarchy." "Much of it," he explained, "is due to this dictum that there is ’a new way of seeing things.’ If I covered the Batasan building-all of it with black cloth-that is not only searing commentary, an achievement-it is also something new. But is it art?"


In his column, the award-winning writer also commented on the issue of freedom of expression-a point contested by pro- and anti-"Kulo" supporters. "How I wish our artists would stop claiming freedom of expression all the time that they are criticized. To me freedom of expression is not involved with the CCP exhibit. Artistic sensibility and rigid critical values are the norm and they should prevail if our culture is to develop," he wrote.


For more on this story, log on to ABS-CBN News and The Philippine Star.

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