By Walter Ang
January 18, 2010
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The former fourth district Representative of Negros Occidental and current head of the Negros Occidental Football Association has been collecting art for the past fourteen years, mainly paintings. He has a fondness for works by Charlie Co as well as artists from Negros Occidental. Some of his prized pieces are Antipas Delotavo's five-panel oil on canvas "Sandaan Taon" and Nona Garcia's award winning mixed media "See-Saw."
From personal interest, his passion has grown into enterprise, and now, philanthropy. In 2007, he opened a gallery in Bacolod. "I needed a space to house my collection and it was a way to pay for my hobby!" he says with a laugh. "It was a natural progression. In the long run, it's become something that gives back to the arts and artists."
"From my travels abroad, I can see that there's a lack of art appreciation here. We're behind. We're still at the developing stage," he says. To push the development of the art scene, Cojuangco has created the Carlos Oppen Cojuangco Foundation to support cultural and artistic endeavors.
"I see promise in young artists today but they should balance their passions with the realities of day-to-day living. While honing and showing their craft, they should find ways to support themselves through endeavors not necessarily dependent on their art making. It's a realistic way of nurturing one's thinking and relationship to society," he adds.
Through his foundation, Cojuangco donated the use of his gallery space, which has now transferred to Makati City along Pasong Tamo, to support the "Art On The Verge" scholarship fund.
Titled "Conquistador," the fundraising solo exhibit curated by Patrick Flores featured mixed media works by contemporary visual artist Anton del Castillo. Del Castillo won first place, oil category, Metrobank Young Painters' Annual 2003; and was a finalist at the 2006 Ateneo Art Gallery and Philip Morris Philippine Art Awards. He's participated in solo and group exhibitions in Beijing, Hong Kong, New York, and Manila.
It is fitting that Del Castillo is the artist who jumpstarted the fundraising for this scholarship given his own commitment to education and higher studies. He holds graduate and undergraduate degrees in Painting from the University of the Philippines and teaches art subjects at UP Integrated School.
Conquistador's iconized imagery of war machines, toy soldiers and world maps is the result of concepts and techniques that Del Castillo learned while on scholarship abroad. He studied Byzantine art in New York City as a fellow of the Asian Cultural Council and Sovereign Foundation Hong Kong for the International Studio and Curatorial Program; and he studied the estofado technique (painting over metallic leaf) in Spain as a scholar of Cooperacion Espanola.
The "Art On The Verge" scholarship was conceived by Art Cabinet Philippines and Rogue Media. "This scholarship is the first of its kind in the Philippines that assists emerging visual artists in the completion of advanced studies in the fine arts, providing them an opportunity for informed critique and artistic discovery within an academic setting," says Dindin Araneta, director of Art Cabinet Philippines, an artist management group that supports emerging visual artists through its projects and exhibits.
"It's a way of deepening our commitment to the arts and young artists. We want to support brave new works because sometimes these are the kind of works that do not enjoy commercial success immediately," she adds.
The scholarship's first recipient is 22 year old Brendale Tadeo, who had to drop out of college due to financial difficulties. Tadeo hails from Zambales and has taken workshops and exhibited at Casa San Miguel.
"He's the perfect person to receive this grant. Even though he hasn't been able to finish college, he's worked hard to learn painting and has even been included in some exhibits. He's also involved in the Anino Shadow Play Collective. You can see that he really wants to become a visual artist and his desire is there," Araneta says.
Katrina Tuason, managing director of Rogue Media, says, "This scholarship is something that we have been wanting to do for a long time. We finally got together and pushed for it. Aside from tuition, it will also have materials grants and assist our scholars with their careers after they graduate.
Tuason explains that each grantee will eventually mount a fundraising exhibit for the next grantee. "Anton's exhibit is funding Brendale's scholarship; Brendale has already started preparing for his exhibit next year that will fund the next grantee. We are starting off the scholarship with visual arts, but `Art on the Verge' will grow to support other art forms like music, literature, film, performance art, etc. We're really excited."
Nova Gallery Manila is at Warehouse 10A, La Fuerza Compound, 2241 Don Chino Roces Ave. (formerly Pasong Tamo), Makati City. Call 09285504816, 8124354 or 7297747.
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