The first of its kind in the Philippines, the Ateneo Art Gallery (AAG) is a part of the Ateneo de Manila University. It is a museum that showcases modern art and is back with PRINT(Ed): The AAG Print Collection Revisited - an exhibition aiming to help viewers develop a basic understanding of printmaking as an artistic medium. The exhibit present basic printmaking techniques such as relief and serigraphy to the more experimental and hybrid techniques used by contemporary artists today. It dives into the history of printmaking ands how the AGG Print Collection grew over the years.
This exhibition is curated by Pandy Aviado, who is himself one of Philippines' pioneer in contemporary printmaking. Also known as a visual artist and sculptor, 2018 was a year where the print industry celebrated their 50th anniversary. With an art career spanning four decades and beyond, Aviado writes a note about his curation of PRINT(Ed) and his affinity with the AAG.
Almost 60 years ago, in the early 1960s, as a sophomore AB student, I discovered the Ateneo Art Gallery. It was located on the ground floor of the Bellarmine Hall. That summer, I had just finished an art workshop held at the Ateneo Grade School Gym. During that workshop, Mrs. Araceli Dans introduced us to some basic art techniques and mediums. My very first serious artworks began here.
One of the things I did that seemed to impress everyone was a pen and ink drawing of a shanty house (Barong-barong). My mother had this brilliant idea of giving it to Fr. Kunkel, then the College Dean as a token. Fr. Kunkle then introduced me to Eric Torres. Eric invited me to visit the Gallery.
The Ateneo Art Gallery had two parts then. The whole area consisted of three classroom size space. Two-thirds of that was the main gallery. The other part was the storage room. It wasn’t just a storage room, but it was also the office of the Curator and also the watering hole for the members of the elite Ateneo Arts Club. It had a 24-hours air-conditioning system and a turntable with speakers. It was in this room where I stumbled upon several black “carpetas” that contained woodcuts and etchings. It was, to explain plainly, mind blowing for a 17-years old sophomore.
In my workshop under Mrs. Dans, aside from learning woodcuts and stencils, I was introduced to Rod. The following month I got to visit his studio in San Andres. That started my involvement in the advocacy of Fine Printmaking as a major visual arts medium. I had then both the privilege of working side by side Rod and the access to the Ateneo Print Collection.
Eventually it dawned on me about the leap of faith I will soon have to decide on. Was I, then prepared to dedicate the rest of my life to an idea (Printmaking) for which I would probably receive no material compensation for at least 20 years?
As they say a committed decision is when you do it regardless.
I first received my awards in the Graphic Arts Division of the Shell Student Art Competition in 1964. They were etchings I did with Rodriguez and Emet . Mang Emet, as we all call him was Rod’s sidekick. He knew how to make etching ground and was pretty good as a printer. He helped me in doing my first, prize-winning aquatints.
I wasn’t the only student artist who was highly appreciative of the Print collection. I remember the time Butch Zialcita showed me the aquatints of Francisco Goya and the time Louie Acosta showed me the lithograph of Ben Shan. Dinky Munda and I would spend our free time looking at the prints while listening to “Misa Luba” record playing on the turntable. I also remember Pete Lacaba showing me Arturo Luz woodcuts.
It was also at this time that the favourite hunting ground for illustrations for the Heights Magazine was the Print Collection. I also remember a 1964 yearbook that featured the Ateneo Art Gallery Collection. Zobel’s artworks were quite popular as covers of literary journals then. I had the privilege of seeing Zobel at work in Rod’s studio. He gave me several of his prints at that time.
Every now and then I would visit Eric in the Gallery storage room. We would go over the prints individually and I would guess the medium used. When he felt that I was so passionate about printmaking, he gifted me with a book- Printmaking by Gabor Peterdi. Up until now, I regard it i as my Printmaking Bible.
In an effort to be independent and to totally concentrate on Printmaking, I had a small studio made at the back of our house in Quezon City. Attending the workshop of Maning Rodriguez was great but traveling from where I live to the others side of the city in Malate was such a tiring journey.
I was able to convince my Father to finance the fabrication of a small etching press. The press was custom made built from surplus machine parts.In this small studio and from the small etching press, intaglio plates of Joya, Chabet, Bencab and Ding ROces were editioned, The first one man shows of Resty Embascados and Ray Albanos graphic works were prepared and printed also in this studio in the late 60’s
I left for Europe in 1969 to participate in the Paris Biennial and to study art in Madrid. The first workshop I checked out was called BOJ. Basically the workshop concentrated in lithography and was managed by a greek artist named Dimitri Papaguergino. Coincidentally, his approach to his art reminded me so much of Mang Maning. A litho of mine in the CCP collection entitled Molotov cocktail was made there. The height of my stay in Spain was working as an intaglio printer at Grupo Quince. Later I moved to Paris and became a printer at Edition Imprente.
When I left Europe, the Ateneo Art Gallery had already moved to the basement of the Rizal Library. The Art Gallery Prints Collection had continuously grown. I also remember showing my 8mm films there before leaving for Europe.
In 1989, I joined Printmakers around Asia to be part of Fukoaka’s Print Project.I had a memorable stay in Fukuoka. I was chosen in 1989 to represent the country in the 1989 Print Adventure in Fukuoka. My stay in that printmaking project lead me to the network of other printmakers in Asia. I became friends with Long Thien Shih (Malaysia) and A.D. Pirous (Indonesia). We weren’t conscious of it though, but now I see that was the beginning of a group that will be eventually known as the Federation of Asian Artist.
I was part of several Printmaking show at the gallery before it moved on the main floor of the Rizal Library. One of them was a retro show of my old and new prints . Richie Lerma curated the show.
This show PRINT(Ed) is an exhibition to celebrate the Printmaking as a major medium, not only here but worldwide. It is an art exhibit meant to show the intimacy Prints give the viewer. This show, as one would later realise, is a trip up and down the entire history of printmaking.