CANVAS Launches a Soaring Pilot with ‘Seeking Balance’

Though we have yet to ever do a review, this one most certainly isn’t. It’s more like a love letter. Since 2005, the Center for Art, New Ventures & Sustainable Development (known to most as CANVAS) has worked with the creative community to foster children’s literacy and public appreciation for Philippine art, culture, and its environment, and not without plumbing the depths of national identity along the way.

Ambitious though the nonprofit’s vision-mission is, they don’t cut any corners, and they certainly did not with their ongoing exhibition, Seeking Balance. A proof-of-concept show for Tumba-Tumba, the children’s museum they dream to build, Seeking Balance gathers works from four art collectives and 25 individual talents that are uncompromising in their response to the titular and topical prompt.

After all, how does one do what is duly expected (make a difference, provide for loved ones, hold the powerful into account, empower those at the fringes) when the new normal seems precariously askew, and the staid rules gone away? Another concern seems to undergird the first: How could generations now and into the future prepare, instead of buckle, at these present and pressing realities? 

The results vary from artist to artist, as each tackles the challenge from a different angle. Dante Lerma’s acrylic on canvas work, “Equilibrium” presents a divisive figure—both showman and plague doctor—balance atop a wooden board, on a marble above a cosmic clock of the world. Jun Impas’s “The Glass Wall,” meanwhile, is explicit in tackling the class divide. In the painting, two families, one rich and one poor, are situated at either side of the glass. Despite the material’s transparency, the glass is all but naturalized; except for a precocious young boy, the two families seem unaware of the other.

Leonard Aguinaldo’s “Robots Don’t Cry,” meanwhile, comes timely with the release of the docudrama, theSocial Dilemma, albeit it appears more prophetic. Through carved finger board, acrylic, and oil, the piece and its reliefs give the appearance of an archaic hieroglyph. Abound with subtle elements, it calls for patience in a time when nearly everything online clamors for one’s attention.

DANTE+LERMA Equilibrium Cartellino
Dante Lerma. Equilibrium. Acrylic on canvas.
Leonard+Aguinaldo Cartellino
Leonard Aguinaldo. Robots Don't Cry. Carved fiber board, acrylic, oil, printers ink, clear acrylic spray.
Manny Garibay. Titulado. Oil on canvas.
Jun+Impas Cartellino
Jun Impas. The Glass Wall. Oil on canvas.

And these are just three. All works come with thoughtful writeups from the artists, and many of the pieces themselves would surprise you for a children’s museum POC. See them all until October 3, available online here and for physical viewing at the first and third floor galleries at the UP Vargas Museum.

And be sure not to miss the next by CANVAS. Slated for October this year is Self-Portrait, where dozens of artists are invited to reflect on the role of art for the recurrent Outdoor Banner Project.

The full artist roster for Seeking Balance includes Leonardo Aguinaldo, Darby Alcoseba, John Paul Antido, Marcel Antonio, Jojo Barja, Don Bryan Bunag, Demetrio Dela Cruz, Cedrick Dela Paz, Liza Flores, Manny Garibay, Lui Gonzales, Jun Impas, Mark Justiniani, Dante Lerma, Lui Manaig, Chad Montero, Jason Moss, Otto Neri, Roel Obemio, Jim Orencio, Jaime Pacena, Blic Pinas, Palma Tayona, Jomike Tejido, Jojit Solano, and groups Biskeg Pangasinan Art Collective, Durian Collective, Sangviaje Artist Collective, Studio 1616, The Working Animals.

Anchor photo: Studio 1616 (Janardan Balingit, Keb Cerda, John Marin, Jett Osian, Roy Rosatase, Yani Unsana, and Erick Villarruz). MAKINIGAcrylic and oil on canvas.
All images courtesy of CANVAS and the artists.