MADE Art Awards: Images of recurring realities

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MESSAGES of hope, human relationships affected by politics, and environmental issues were tackled by the winning entries of the Metrobank Art & Design Excellence (MADE). The Metrobank Foundation, Inc. (MBFI) recognized the MADE awardees through an online awarding ceremony held on Sept. 22.

Now on its 38th year and held for the second time online, the competition carried the theme “Emerge: Step into Your Boundless Future,” focusing on human sentiments and ambition.

Established in 1984 by the late Metrobank Group founder and chairman Dr. George Ty Siao Kian, MADE has served as a platform for the discovery of creative visionaries. To date, more than 400 visual artists and design professionals have been MADE awardees, including such top talent as Elmer Borlongan, Mark Justiniani, Jan Leeroy New, Alfredo Esquillo, Andres Barrioquinto, Yeo Kaa, and Cedrick dela Paz.

“The creative industries play a major role in shaping our national identity and cultural preservation. Time and again, we look for avenues where creative expression and artistic talent thrive as a means to celebrate human experiences,” said MBFI President Aniceto Sobrepeña in his opening remarks.

“The Metrobank Art & Design Excellence or MADE is driven by the purpose to celebrate budding artists and provide a conducive platform for their genius to flourish,” he added.

Of 500 entries nationwide — 59 water media paintings, 79 sculptures, 399 oil and acrylic paintings — 12 national finalists were chosen. Four outstanding works emerged as awardees in the Painting and Sculpture Recognition Program.

The four are recognized for “their technical acuity and brilliant portrayal of the Filipino narrative.”

Underneath by Jun Orland Espinosa won the Special Citation for Sculpture. The wood sculpture is a representation of natural calamity and chaos.

“I challenge others to look for the positive side of things in a chaotic scenario. Despite life’s challenges, if you have faith, there is hope,” Mr. Espinosa said in English and Filipino during the awarding ceremony.

Ninuno by Melvin Pollero is the awardee in the Oil/Acrylic on Canvas Category. The painting’s focal point is a skeleton representing national minorities covered in trees in a forest. The work’s busy images also show fleeing animals and a scene depicting people helplessly fighting off bulldozers.

“’Iyung Ninuno tungkol siya sa kalagayan ng kalikasan natin, kalagayan ng national minorities, at ang kaugnayan nito sa ating lahat (Ninuno is about the state of nature and our environment, the state of our national minorities, and how it relates of all of us),” Mr. Pollero said of his winning piece.

Dalawáng Libó’t Dalawáng Pu at Hanggang Kailan? by Raymund Ador III is the awardee for Watermedia on Paper Category. It shows a young painter sitting in his studio with his head down while holding a skull.

“The message of this piece is about hope and how to solve the COVID-19 crisis, and how we can start again,” Mr. Ador said in English and Filipino.

Politika by Mateo Cacnio is the grand awardee for Sculpture. His piece of two figures fighting, made of aluminum, presents an illusion of fluidity.

“I want them to see that politics has turned out to be this battleground between what is real, what is fact versus what is evil,” Mr. Cacnio said of his work. “I believe that artworks aren’t meant to be explained. Rather they are meant to be felt. That’s why we call art as a form of visual communication.”

This year’s Board of Judges was chaired by visual artist and director of Eskinita Art Farm Alfredo Esquillo. Members of the board included visual artist and co-founder of the Orange Project Charlie Co; visual artist Mervy Pueblo; painter and sculptor Reg Yuson; University of the Philippine College of Fine Arts professor Lisa Ito; visual artist Elmer Borlongan; and visual artist and Philippine High School for the Arts art teacher Marc Vincent Cosico.

The grand prize awardees received a certificate, trophy, and cash prizes of P500,000; while the artist given the Special Citation for the Sculpture Recognition Program received a certificate, trophy, and a cash prize of P100,000.

The continuity of MADE’s program is also reflected in the competition’s new trophy called More by metal sculptor and 2007 Metrobank Foundation Prize for Achievement in Sculpture Juan Zajid.

“[You] have more to offer after winning this prestigious award,” Mr. Zajid said.

The trophy is designed with holes like binoculars to represent focus in one direction. “Through your focus, that’s where you become an authentic artist,” he said.

To expand MADE’s advocacy, it has partnered with the Linangan Art Residency for the first time to provide scholarships for two of the competition’s finalists. They will be mentored by prominent Filipino artists in a three-month curriculum.

“We push forward a specialized curriculum designed not only to equip and nurture emerging artists, but to connect them to a deep sense of purpose and identity that empowers them,” Linangan Art Residency director Alee Garibay said of the program.

For more information and to view the online gallery of winners, visithttps://www.madeartdepot.ph/. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman

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