Ateneo Art Awards 2004-2013: A Retrospective

Monday, 09 Sep 2013 to Tuesday, 10 Dec 2013

Ateneo Art Gallery, Level 2, Rizal Library Special Collections Building, Ateneo de Manila University

A coming together of two giants in Philippine art

As the Ateneo Art Awards celebrates its 10th anniversary, a new prize category has been added to its annual selection of the year’s best contemporary Filipino visual artists. The Purita Kalaw Ledesma Prize for Art Criticism is meant to encourage local art writers to foster critical public discussion about exhibitions and artworks in keeping with the mission and vision of the Ateneo Art Gallery to recognize artistic talent and push boundaries in contemporary art practice.

With this, the Ateneo de Manila University through the Ateneo Art Gallery is likewise pleased to present a partnership with the Kalaw-Ledesma Foundation, Inc. in association with the The Philippine Star to honor the memory of Purita Kalaw Ledesma, art patron and founder of the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP). Ledesma was instrumental in the development of Philippine art of the post war period through the establishment of the AAP and her patronage of both established and emerging artists.

Ledesma herself was a writer who authored several important books on Philippine art history, namely The Struggle for Philippine Art, Edades: National Artist, and The Biggest Little Room: A History of the Philippine Art Gallery (PAG). It was at the PAG that Ledesma and like-minded individuals gathered to exchange ideas about art and culture. Fernando Zóbel, the founding benefactor of the Ateneo Art Gallery, was among the artists/art patrons that frequented the PAG and became very good friends with Ledesma. The PAG group, which included the likes of Vicente Manansala, HR Ocampo, and Arturo Luz, became the stalwarts of modernism in the Philippines and shaped the direction of art for the succeeding decades. Much of the Philippine art collection donated by Zóbel to the Ateneo Art Gallery in 1960 were paintings and sculptures produced by this pioneering group of artists who eventually became National Artists. In honor of his critical eye and the prescient selections that he made, the annual Ateneo Art Awards recognizing the three best works by young emerging Filipino visual artists were established in Zóbel’s memory in 2004, and will henceforth be known as the Fernando Zóbel Prizes for Visual Art.

That Ledesma and Zóbel are now coming together at the Ateneo Art Gallery through the Ateneo Art Awards is a testament to the abiding legacy of these two Philippine art vanguards in recognizing and setting the highest standards of artistic excellence.

How to join the Ateneo Art Awards êPurita Kalaw Ledesma Prize for Art Criticism

Any Filipino citizen can participate provided that they do not have a regular column in any broadsheet or magazine. Bloggers, defined as 'writers of online journals, websites, or whose written work is published in electronic social media’ may join. Employees of the Ateneo Art Gallery and the Kalaw Ledesma Foundation, Inc., whether full-time or part-time, are disqualified. Employees of The Philippine Star, with the exception of columnists, may participate including contributors defined as ‘any person whose written work is published with a byline but not identified as a columnist.’

Interested parties must submit a previously unpublished art critique of an exhibition held in the Philippines of no more than 1000 words. All initial submissions will be pseudonymously presented to the jury, with the actual identities of the writers to be revealed at the completion of the judging process.

Participants must review one of these exhibitions:

  • The Philippine Contemporary: To Scale the Past and the Possible at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila
  • Trajectories, ongoing until 21 December 2013 at the Lopez Memorial Museum
  • It’s Complicated, opening in February 2014 at the Lopez Memorial Museum

Visual documentation must be submitted together with the art critiques. Deadline for submission of entries will be on March 31, 2013. The announcement of the recipient of the inaugural Purita Kalaw Ledesma Prize for Art Criticism will be held during the Ateneo Art Awards ceremony in August 2014 as part of the celebration of Ledesma’s 100th birth anniversary. Please note that copyright of the works of the 3 shortlisted writers (including the winner) shall be held jointly by the Ateneo Art Gallery and the Kalaw-Ledesma Foundation, Inc.


As one of the main goals of the prize is to get art criticism into the public sphere, the prize is a regular bi-monthly column in The Philippine Star, with an honorarium of Php 10,000 for each column written by the winner, thus totaling Php 20,000 per month for twelve months or a total prize of Php 240,000. The column will be held for a one-year term only from the time that the prize is bestowed. The prize also includes mentorship with an established writer from the faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University.


The jury will consist of Ramon E.S. Lerma, Director & Chief Curator of the Ateneo Art Gallery, and Millet Mananquil, the Lifestyle Editor of The Philippine Star as permanent members, with the President of the Kalaw Ledesma Foundation, Ada Ledesma Mabilangan, sitting in all jury deliberations as advisor. Three other jury members jointly selected by the Ateneo Art Gallery and the Kalaw Ledesma Foundation will be invited.