MADE Proudly: The Ballad of Teves, Bunag and Tan


Consider it like a socio-civic duty, one should not miss the annual painting exhibition of the Metrobank Art and Design Excellence (MADE) every September. Not out of curiosity but with a dedication that comes with responsible citizenship. With sign of the timesas its anchor theme, MADE serves as a crash course not only of the emerging styles of Philippine contemporary art but of the current affairs of our country or after viewing the recent winning paintings, rather my sad republic.
True to its commitment of recognizing the best among artists 35 years and below MADE has kept this promise in acknowledging the relevant art of the young for more than 30 years now. Inviting myself on every occasion in the last five offing I noticed more students winning the coveted prizes than amateur artists who do not have a solo show, as its rules apply. Some winners are even in their late teens while they are still in college. And gauging from the winning paintings of recent years the more the Philippine situation gets worse the more beautiful art is being churned out. Is it that bad for our own good?
In the Land of Forsaken Promises by Don Bryan Bunag

In the water-based category Don Bryan Bunag is all of 22 years but already has the sensibilities of an old battered soul. Every thing one would want in a pretty picture is perfectly present in Bunag’s wining piece Into the Land of Forsaken Promises, only its gloomier bordering on starkness. For Bunag, hope is a young girl freely playing in the expanse of a field. However prettiness may yet be the last long look this winning piece evokes. With moving white clouds, the melancholic child whose hair is being blown away does not even look at you in the eyes. Is it shyness from the truth? Is it surrendering from desolation? Her constant replication annoys us even more. Bunag has brought a fresh perspective of our tired longing for change. 

Yet Bunag does not end there. He goes further by splicing up the canvas. What he has painstakingly done so so many days he distorts it in minutes. Talk about masochist tendencies. What seems to be like grass are actually fine thin slits coming from his slashing of blades. Sometimes the more concealed or decoded one’s images are the more its message implicitly impresses upon what the artist explicitly intended to the viewer. 

What may be sordidly fantasy to Bunag is blatant realism to Bryan Teves. In fact it is of the hyper-kind that his main image almost emerges out of the canvas.
The distance from where he is based in Sta. Catalina in Ilocos Sur provides Teves with a clearer perspective of composing an image worthy of emulation. Simplicity over-laden with values won for this one. How Teves warmly wraps that blanket of emotion around a dual image of a reversal of role is astoundingly executed. The blanket properly enveloped all the emotions that come with being happy at birth and being desperate in desolation in reverse.
Sakbibi ng Galak at Tagumpay by Bryan Teves
In Sakbibi ng Galak at Tagumpay, Teves portrays in an Asian way of composing things, a yin-and-yang approach to living. In previous works he likes to double his subjects or in this case, in reverse as seamless as can be. Against a freshly-green background Teves does well by this exacting love of family and the cycle of life we unavoidably exposed to.
Once in a while abstraction finds its sordid place in the representational laden art competition like MADE. “I” by Andrew Tan is replete with characters one is familiar with in the metropolis. Breathing the carbon air of the city one gets numbed like Tan while surviving in the daily urban mosh pit we are constantly rolling into. In taking the Clement Greenberg challenge as mentioned the catalogue essay by Cid Reyes, at a glance I see a lot of flesh undertones of the bigger overview. Much like a whole being is consumed by the cosmopolitan disease we have been informally and contagiously exposed to.
I by Andrew tan

Given its relevance to the art community, MADE still is the rites of passage for most of artists practicing in the Philippines. The names of its products alone could double the word count of this blog entry. Without even words, its roster of winning artworks can tell the true story of our people. It is hope that one day all these will be displayed in a proper venue for everyone to marvel at and be appreciated. What many lack in material things we make up in talent in fine bold artistry. For it is only through imagination that we can envision and build a country. MADE was made for that as we collectively continue our stories of survival one day at a time.