30 years after the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, CANVAS rallies more than 80 artists for the plight of the most vulnerable.
Text by Hannah Manaligod and Art+ Staff. Artwork photos courtesy of CANVAS
CANVAS , or the Center for Art, New Ventures & Sustainable Development, held the show from
July 5 to 19, 2019 as part of their annual “Looking for Juan” Outdoor Banner Project, which aims to put across important questions about the Philippines and Filipinos at an accessible—or unavoidable—public space. Its site for eleven years now has been the University of the Philippines-Diliman campus, the banners of artwork displayed amongst picturesque acacia trees. This year, here’s a painting of a funnel of traumatized faces courtesy of National Artist Benedicto Cabrera, no less, in “A Nation of Our Children.” With haunted eyes, the faces clamor silently for your attention, soon to be compressed into nothingness in silence. Over there, two cuddly children, rosy-cheeked, round-eyed, fleeing with life vests on and very little else. From the hand of Ricky Ambagan, “Torn from Home” is as pretty as displacement can be. It’s good company for a warm, leisurely Sunday jog.
The show’s theme celebrates the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, with the Philippines among its signatories.
Responding to the cause, are more than 80 painters and sculptors. Many speak with bleak and harrowing immediacy, like BenCab’s work, as well as Jason Delgado’s “A Sure Beautiful Ending.” Delgado delicately details a pillow’s outline in chalk on top of makeshift cardboard beddings in trompe-l’œil. Some borrow the unabashed optimism that speak of innocence. “Nature Lover” by Jim Orencio is vision of a wild child thronged by woodland and beasts; it longs for the peace in an upbringing tethered to the earth. While veteran illustrator Beth Parrocha Doctolero conveys the need for simple beauty in her workm “Loved.” “Buwan-buwan, Kada-taon” by Archie Oclos illustrates a lumad youth crossing a river, provisions in hand, but still plodding on towards the promise of the other side.
The horrific circumstantial oppression that is the everyday reality of children is only matched by the gamut of talent and sheer empathy from the show’s artists. And one cannot ask for a better, or prettier, crowbar to pry eyes into seeing other than this level of art—seeing being the operative word here. Truth be told, the children really need more than being seen, but it’s a start.
This article is part of a series of submissions from the “Art Writing for Media” workshop hosted by Art+ Magazine and Kwago