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At work: Filipino artists Celso Pepito and Darby Alcoseba paint scenery near Sidemen, Bali, during a contemporary art exchange between the Philippines and Indonesia. Courtesy of Made Somadita
As a part of “Kita”, the first Philippines Indonesia contemporary art intercultural exchange program and exhibitions, the Art Portal in Cebu presented the first of three exhibitions in the Philippines recently.
The word kita in Indonesian and in Tagalog means “we”. It emphasizes the human experience as a collective occurrence rather than an individual one and underlines mankind’s common origins.
Intercultural art exchange programs function on not only the immediate level of the personal experience of participants, as benefits are mutually culturally enriching as well as ongoing. Intercultural awareness, tolerance and communication open the door to opportunities for political, economic and social benefits, and for the individual there are opportunities for personal development and growth.
“It is vital for the visual artist to be exposed to new cultural and artistic landscapes to build on and develop their creative powers,” said participating artist Wayan Linggih, 29, born in the small village of Sidemen on the slopes of Mount Agung in Karangasem, East Bali. “This was my first journey outside of Bali and it was an amazing experience that I will cherish.”
Five artists from Indonesia traveled to the Philippines from June 6 to 22 for the program that included visits to galleries, museums, artist’s studios and collaborative art projects and workshops.
From June 16 to 24 an exhibition was held at the E.C.C.A (Exhibition Center for Contemporary Art) in Manila. A special guest at the opening was Indonesian cultural representative to the Philippines Mahimis, who participated in the official ribbon cutting ceremony.
Many fundamental qualities make the people from Philippines and Indonesia more than simply neighbors.
Geographically, both countries are large, tropical, volcanic archipelagoes that are unions of many culturally rich and diverse indigenous groups that have united to become republics.
European colonizers had a profound impact on both countries’ cultures and the birth of modern art within these nations may also be traced back through these periods.
Filipino contemporary art is unique in Asia because of its long association with Western art through colonization, first by the Spanish, who arrived in 1521, the Catholic Church and then by the United States. Catholicism brought a deep engagement with religious art that is manifested stylistically in a manner that continues to bring a unique vision to Filipino art.
Engaged: Artists participate in a live drawing class with a Korean model at the Diwata Gallery in Cebu, Philipppines. Richard Horstman Contemporary art in Indonesia, however, is much younger than in the Philippines, with its origins traced to Raden Saleh (1807-1880) who was a court painter in Europe before returning to Indonesia and establishing himself as the forefather of modern and contemporary art by being the first indigenous artist to master Western painting techniques.
“The growth of expressive art forms is crucial to the advancement of any society and I believe that contemporary art is a maker of development,” said Antonius Kho, an Indonesian artist and event organizer, who was born in Klaten, Central Java, in 1958 to Chinese-Indonesian and Javanese parents.
Shared: Filipino and Indonesian artists pose with a collaborative piece of art they produced. Richard Horstman Antonius studied art and design in Cologne, Germany, where he lived for 14 years. He organized his first intercultural exchange and exhibitions between Malaysian and Indonesian contemporary artists in 2007 with the then director of the National Gallery of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur.
Antonius has since gone on to organize and participate in other events with artists from La Re Union and events from Yangoon, Myanmar, as well as “Kita”.
“We have benefitted by meeting new people within the art communities of Cebu and Manila, discovering new opportunities to learn and hold more exhibitions. It is especially good for young artists to participate, as well as the older, more experienced artists for shared learning and growth,” said Antonius.
Three Filipino artists stayed in Bali from June 28 to July 8 and visited famous tourist destinations such as Balinese Hindu temples, galleries and museums, and participated in a collaborative project with the final exhibition at Gaya Fusion Art Space in Ubud, Bali, from June 30 to July 7.
Contributing artists from the Philippines were Celso Pepito, Radel Paredes, Darby Vincent Alcoseba, Epifanio Atencia and Adler Llagas. Antonius; Syahrizal Koto from Padang, West Sumatra; Ade Artie Tjakra from Jakarta; and young Balinese artists Wayan Linggih and Made Somadita represented Indonesia.
“Events such as ‘Kita’ bring deeper understanding of culture manifesting through open lines of communication that develop into new and enriching friendships,” said Filipino event organizer and artist Celso Pepito.
The second of the “Kita” intercultural exchange programs is planned for May 2013 and promises to be more memorable, with the rekindling of friendships as well as new opportunities for cultural learning, the promotion of contemporary art and hopefully continued sales as well.
“The figurative sculptures from Flores that I observed in Bali revealed similar design features as the statues of the rice gods from the central highland areas of the Philippines,” said Filipino artist and curator Radel Paredes.
“What is most significant to me about my experience here in Bali is rediscovering that we [Filipinos and Indonesians] have so much in common.”