Tequi exhibit focuses on Perigord episode
By Walter Ang
August 25, 208
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Multi-awarded painter and printmaker Ofelia "Ofie" Gelvezon-Tequi was recently featured in the "100 Nudes" fund raising art exhibit of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association (UPAA) for the university's centennial celebrations.
Known for her still lifes and use of symbolism, Tequi admits that she does not usually tackle nudes as a subject matter. For the exhibit, on display were four nude sketches she executed for a class exercise when she took further studies in Rome at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma.
In addition to being included in the exhibit, Tequi was awarded the UPAA Distinguished Alumni Award for Culture and the Arts at the grand homecoming and reunion held in Araneta Coliseum. "It was a surprise for me. I frankly did not expect it," she says. "It's a nice feeling to be validated for what we artists do." Tequi adds, "While other alumni are getting awarded for causes like poverty alleviation, I'd like to think that we [artists] advocate the alleviation of the soul."
The road to UP Tequi was born in Iloilo but had a peripatetic childhood. "My father Ramon G. Gelvezon was a military man. We moved from place to place as he was assigned to different camps in the Philippines," she recounts. "But when we needed to go good schools for more 'serious' education, we stayed put in Manila."
"My mother, Milagros L. Lucas, graduated from the UP Conservatory of Music and we always had music in the house - the popular songs of her youth and classical music. We learned to be eclectic in our musical taste although none of us made music our profession. Nor the military for that matter," Tequi adds.
Growing up, Tequi always liked to draw, but when she got to college, she initially enrolled in AB English. "I thought I'd wanted to be a kind of Brenda Starr (a comic strip character). During my time, there was still no real journalism degree," she says. "But I was thankful for the literature courses I had to take. These later became sources for what I would express visually. It was possible then to cross register in two different colleges and take up two courses simultaneously, which was what I did."
Tequi double enrolled in Fine Arts and there she met "wonderful people, great human beings both in the classroom and outside" that helped mold her artistic talents. "I had several National Artists as teachers like NVM Gonzalez and Jose Joya. Joya was not only a mentor but was also a friend. I remember riding the bus with him that went on EDSA as he lived all the way in Pasay then, while I got off at the Crossing on Shaw Boulevard."
Colors of home
After college, Tequi has had over 30 solo exhibitions since 1970 in Manila, Paris, New York, and Monaco, as well as numerous group shows since 1968 in various countries around the world. She was the first female recipient of the Cultural Center of the Philippines Thirteen Artist Awards.
For painting, Tequi usually uses acrylic on canvas or rag paper, collage and mixed media, and aniline on silk. For her printmaking, she usually does colored etching on zinc or copper plates and engraving on copper.
"My maternal grandfather, Pablo Lucas was the first Filipino director of the Bureau of Printing. Perhaps I inherited the genes for printmaking from him. I also, later on, was a book designer for the UP Press," she says. The major themes or topics that Tequi deals with in her works revolve around "politics, our relationship with the Almighty, and time."
In the home Tequi shares with husband Marc, a retired banker, in France, practically all of the artworks are by Filipino artists. "We have a number of works by Joya, of course," she says. "Macario Vitalis, BenCab, Claude Tayag, Phyllis Zaballero, Popo San Pascual, R.M. de Leon and many more. I also have a 1928 Amorsolo landscape that I inherited from my mother."
Tequi's husband was actually her French teacher when she was in college. "He was teaching in UP and the Alliance Française in lieu of the military service that was obligatory in France at that time," she recounts. They married in 1977 and moved to France the same year. Her daughter and two sons are now all married and have given Tequi five grandchildren.
Between two lands Her last exhibit in Manila was two years ago at the Hiraya Gallery. This year, Tequi will be sharing a glimpse of her life in France with Filipino art lovers. Tequi is currently preparing for an exhibit to be featured at the Alliance Francaise.
"It will be called `Périgord Still Life.' Périgord is the region where my family and I live and my still life paintings show, in some way, my life there in that village. There will be around thirty pieces of acrylic on linen and they will range from small to big sizes."
"I've used Périgord as a theme off and on starting with my exhibit with Budji Layug in Reposo but more consistently so starting with my show at Dr. Joven Cuanang's Pinto Gallery," she says.
Despite living away from the Philippines, Tequi clearly has strong ties to her land of birth. In fact, she foresees a "rich and varied future for Philippine art." She notes, "There is a lot of public interest in local artists who can satisfy a great range of tastes with works of high quality from the experimental to the conservative. And not just in the visual arts. Theatre is very much alive and fecund. In France right now, Filipino cinema is included in the Paris Film Fest. We Pinoys have something to say to the world, we `say' it in our language and we are sure the world will hear us."
For details on "Périgord Still Life," contact Alliance Francaise Manila at 895-7441.
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