In these challenging times, we reflect on the relevance of the virtual Art Exhibit at the Cultural Center of Philippines — “Of Allegories and Realities”

Last year, the Cultural Center of the Philippines presented a virtual Art Exhibit on February 22, 2020 through the end of May 2020 entitled “OF ALLEGORIES and REALITIES.” It featured various painters and artists, most specifically, a dear sorority sister, artist, and painter, OFELIA GELVEZON-TEQUI. The exhibit was curated by Ma. Victoria T. Herrera and the project was coordinated by Aphae Raciel Malfa.

The virtual exhibit was described by Ma. Victoria T. Herrera in a walkthrough introductory panel. In it, she said: “Literature and Art History strongly influence the works of OFELIA GELVEZON-TEQUI, earning two decades in Fine Arts and English from the University of the Philippines in Diliman. She pursued further Art training after finishing her undergraduate degrees at the Pratt Institute in New York and the Academia di Belle Arti di Roma in Rome, where she explored different techniques such as aquatint, collagraph and embossing. Some of her artworks in the exhibit reveal her preference for the ‘expressiveness of unrefined forms.’ As part of the ‘Allegories and Realities exhibit, her sacred and devout images were significantly represented.

Her approach “to survival” emanates from a deep understanding of the literary and visual arts. Her friend and fellow artist, Nonon Padilla Ong, noted that “the word of the DIVINE is very much present ‘in her works.’ She has been highly acclaimed for the use of ALLEGORY to express and articulate statements on social ills and current struggles, which is so apropos in TODAY’s living. Described as ‘veiled language,’ she employs ALLEGORY to refer to more contemporary concerns, culled from medieval magnificent illustrations and biblical texts. Her series of prints in the mid-1980s were filled with images of the sacred, juxtaposed alongside the ordinary and everyday life. Yet, her works are also honoring real and personal family events, Life and losses, GREED and CORRUPTION. Turbulent political climate (which is seen in TODAY’s world), or simply, a row of trees, or lush snow, or STILL life.

In the 1990’s she started a series of small-format prints called ‘estampitas,’ named after the small religious images printed on cloth or paper. These include her many representations of the Virgin Mary mostly in Filipiniana attire and the Santo Niño. She also has other related series of artwork combining Madonnas painted inside printed frames decorated with Cherubs.

Referring to Gelvezon – Tequi’s prints and paintings, another artist/friend, Leonidas Bengsa noted a strong sense of nostalgia for the past…but the idiom is pop, even fair.’ In Pantha (an old Asian practice), with Aniline pigments she included the farce of the ‘anting-anting,’ Her more recent print works also showed similar qualities, composed in a heroic schema with Flurries and Fairies in a minimalist almost blank background as a Medieval ‘al frescoe.’ In the 1990s, Gelvezon-Tequi’s series of prints and paintings depicted everyday lives of Filipinos, among them is a series of framed representations of the ‘MYSTERIES of the ROSARY’ specifically, the JOYFUL and SORROWFUL mysteries. One of sorority sister Offi e’s paintings that mesmerized this author was the one entitled “Visions of Change, Life Evolves, Age Sets In and One Longs to Trim Down,” because it truly made a great impact on me personally.

Finally, after more than two decades as an artist, OFELIA GELVEZON -TEQUI’s artworks STILL finds its RELEVANCE TODAY, as she maintains a constant presence in the local art scene in spite of being a resident of France since 1973. And humbly, she notes that ‘I don’t address myself to the French, only to Filipinos.’ That is because hers is a voice emphatic of the conditions of the marginalized but critical of the foibles of the powerful.

A list of those who supported the outstanding exhibit include: Dr. Ma. Luisa Allado, Agnes Arellano, Ateneo Art Gallery, BenCab Art Foundation, Bulwagan Ng Dangal, Chibu S. Lagman, Galleria Duemila, Kalaw Ledesma Foundation, Inc., Missionary Heritage Museum, Amb. & Mrs. Felipe Mabilangan, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, National Folk Arts Council of the National Museum of the Philippines, Luis V. Ongpin, Jr., Carmen McTavish, Ofelia Gelvezon -Tequi and numerous other private donors.

Indeed, the relevance of this Art Exhibit STILL reflects our lives then and now. For those of you interested in watching the virtual exhibit, please log on to the link: bit.ly/allegoriesandrealities.online.