For its major show for Academic Year 2009–2010, The Museum at De La Salle University presents a sculpture exhibit entitled Iskultura–Istruktura: Ideas in Mass and Form beginning July 9 until December 11, 2009.
The exhibit features three-dimensional artworks from the Wili and Doreen Fernandez, and De La Salle University collections. To complement our collections, works by selected artists were borrowed to provide a wider perspective to significant periods and current practices in sculpture making in the Philippines.
The main objective of the exhibit is to showcase works by contemporary Filipino sculptors that reflect the wide range of forms and materials on a variety of subjects in three-dimensional art.
Objectives of the exhibition are:
Works selected for this exhibition began with a core group from the Wili and Doreen Fernandez bequest. These situate sculpture making in the 1970s to the 1980s, a time when modernism and abstraction in the visual arts had already found a strong following. Additional works from the University collection and from artists and private collectors were borrowed to represent earlier genres and more recent developments in three–dimensional art practice. By no means is the exhibit a comprehensive view of Philippine sculpture. Rather, it is a sampling of works by artists who have influenced in different ways the directions Philippine sculpture has taken in the last five decades and yet to take in the future.
“Sculptured structures are bodies. Their matter consisting of different materials is variously formed. The forming of it happens by demarcation as setting up an enclosing and excluding border.” (Martin Heidegger, Art & Space)
A sculpture makes the concept of space comprehensible and real. Its three–dimensional quality enables us to grasp the relation of matter to the surrounding and enclosed space. Unlike painting, sculptures do not create an illusion of space and mass. It is, perhaps, this tangibility of sculptured forms that made it more appealing and effective as votive images in pre-colonial times. The art of sculpture making has a longer history and tradition in the Philippines than the visual form of painting. It has taken on different roles – from the religious, the decorative, the monumental and commemorative, and the intimate.
Sculpture’s three–dimensional appeal leads us to focus on the artist’s act of exploration with the material. Traditional academic art practice defined limited parameters for sculptors. It established a hierarchy of materials and techniques that influenced its value and significance. However, today’s notion of sculpture has been greatly expanded. Given the current range of materials and techniques available, sculpture making is now regarded as “based on the hewing, carving, digging, casting, or arranging of three-dimensional visual material.”
From the traditional mediums of stone, clay, wood, metal, and glass to the more contemporary materials such as scrap and found objects, fiberglass, plastic and even cotton thread, contemporary sculptors have pushed their expressive and aesthetic possibilities. Part of experiencing sculpture is its relation to the space in which it is located and viewed. The artist engages us to physically respond as we look upwards or over it, walk around it, or even see through it. A relief or wall–bound piece defines a limited visual terrain than a freestanding sculpture.
Figurative sculptures may be in idealized, stylized, or expressionist forms. They make tangible the physical, the spiritual, the psychological, and even the whimsical. Self–portraits, in particular, are material expressions of the artist’s own persona, whether projected or actually realized. Functional sculptures are by themselves not representational but are familiar as they invite us to enter and be “enveloped” in their form and space. On the other hand, abstract sculptures are allusive images. And rather than defining and limiting our perception, they intensify our “sense of something else being present in the work” and force us to think about what might be or what is yet to come.
Modernism and, eventually post-modernism, has brought sculpture out of the confines of positive/occupied space and a specific place. Artists continue to explore different combinations of positive and negative space and varying sites and landscapes. Rosalind Krauss refers to the “expanded field of sculpture” as a result of new practices of individual artists and the use of new mediums. It is often said that there is a lack of appreciation for contemporary sculpture in the Philippines. The cost and access to materials undeniably hampers creativity and has limited sculptors to take it on as a full–time career. Yet in spite of these, a new generation of artists has taken on its many challenges and created new forms that appeals to a wider audience. An expanded notion of sculpture is key to its continued development.
Ma. Victoria T. Herrera
Crowther, Paul. "Space, place, and sculpture: working with Heidegger" in Contemporary Philosophy Review (2007) 40: 151-170.
Guillermo, Alice, et al. Sculpture in the Philippines: From Anito to Assemblage and Other Essays. Manila: Metropolitan Museum of Manila, 1991.
Krauss, Rosalind. "Sculpture in the Expanded Field" in October. Vol. 8 (Spring 1979), pp. 30 – 44.
Reyes, Cid. Conversations on Philippine Art: Interviews by Cid Reyes. Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines. 1989