Redefining contemporary art

The 2012 Thirteen Artists Award lists a good mix of uniquely different artists, with different background and inspirations. But their being different from one another earned them a slot in a group exhibition on Oct. 18 at The Bulwagang Juan Luna (Main Gallery) of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Though being diverse, they still have this common denominator—they are all advocates of artistic excellence and innovative art.

Case in point, Renan Ortiz, an activist and a humble educator, addresses social and political issues surrounding society using his works whilst Jan Leeroy New fuses sculpture, fashion and theater to convey his avant-garde idea of what contemporary art is.

“I don’t think commonality is a requirement for all us. I guess they feel that we have something new to offer for this generation of art making. That’s what 13 Artists [Award] is supposed to promote,” New told Standard Today.

Labeled by Chris Millado, vice-president and artistic director of the CCP, as disruptors of the art scene, the 13 artists will be formally bestowed with the recognition on the same day their newly produced works are unveiled before the public.

“When we say contemporary art, it doesn’t mean that traditional forms are no longer used. A lot us in 13 Artists are heavily influenced by comic books and animation. We call our art contemporary because of the issues we discuss and the available materials and technique we use,” Ortiz conveyed.

The 35-year-old high school teacher earned his degrees in Political Science and Fine Arts from the University of the Philippines. He utilizes mass media images and techniques such as comic books, cartoons, photography and video to send his important messages across.  Gaining interest in how mass media affects mass movements, Ortiz fuses the practice of historicizing, satirizing and experimenting with ideas of power and manipulation.

As an active member of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines, Ortiz acts as organizer and propagandist in pursuing protest art and popularizing pressing political issues though cartooning and other art workshops.
On the other hand, 26-year-old New considers his works contemporary due to the fact that he and his masterpieces inhabit this generation.
The young sculptor, artist, and designer attempts to overlap and intersect with the different forms of visual arts including film, theater and fashion. This approach already earned him a nomination at the 2011 Signature Art Prize in Singapore.
“My overlapping of these different industries and forms…it’s nothing new, but there’s still so much to be done. And I have this attempt to come up with something innovative via the juxtaposition of different techniques and materials,” the artist related.
New was also an exhibiting artist in the Fukoka Asian Art Triennale in Japan in 2009, and in the Singapore Biennale in 2008. This General Santos city native graduated at the Philippine High School for the Arts and University of the Philippines Fine Arts.  He was an awardee for the 2009 Ateneo Art Awards, for which he received residencies in La Trobe University, Australia and in Artisan Gallery in Singapore.
Joining Ortiz and New are progressive innovators engaged in a variety of visual art forms such as painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture and video installation works. Completing the list are Joey Cobcobo, Marina Cruz, Kiri Lluch Dalena, Riel J. Hilario, Robert Langenegger, Michael Muñoz, Wawi Navarroza, Kaloy Olavides, Renan Ortiz, Mark Salvatus, Rodel Tapaya, and Costantino Zicarelli.

As an active member of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines, Ortiz acts as organizer and propagandist in pursuing protest art and popularizing pressing political issues though cartooning and other art workshops.

This year, during a two and a half month nomination period, a total of 56 nominations were received from museum directors, gallerists, independent curators, heads of art and cultural organizations, and former TAA awardees. The panel of jurors included past TAA winners namely Pandy Aviado (1970), Agnes Arellano (1988), Elmer Borlongan (1994) and Ringo Bunoan (2003), and Boots Herrera, VAMD director, representing CCP.

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