2021 Ateneo Art Awards Winners Announced

Sep 16, 2021

The Ateneo Art Gallery (AAG) announced on September 15, Wednesday, via live stream the winners for the 17th season of Ateneo Art Awards. The online event held on Zoom and Facebook featured messages from Ateneo de Manila University President, Fr. Roberto Yap, SJ; Kalaw-Ledesma Foundation Inc. (KLFI) President, Ada Ledesma-Mabilangan; Chargé d affaires of the Embassy of Italy in Manila, Mr. Eugeniu Rotaru; local residency and publication partners, and select jurors from the Fernando Zóbel Prizes for Visual Art and Purita Kalaw-Ledesma Prizes in Art Criticism categories.

For the 2021 Ateneo Art Awards - Purita Kalaw-Ledesma Prizes in Art Criticism, Carla T. Gamalinda and Portia Placino were declared winners from the six (6) shortlisted writers in the English category, while Jaffy V. Fajardo was declared as winner among the three (3) shortlisted writers in the Filipino category. The final selection was made by the three PKL publication partners along with other jurors last July.

The recipient of the Purita-Kalaw Ledesma Prize – The Philippine Star is Carla T. Gamalinda for her entry, Art and the inevitable crisis of the screens. She will be contributing to The Philippine Star twice a month or 24 articles in a year for the publication’s Arts & Culture section. Portia Placino on the other hand takes the Purita-Kalaw Ledesma Prize – ArtAsiaPacific for her essay, Forging on by the Mountainside. Placino will be writing a total of six (6) articles for a year in the said bi-monthly publication.

This year, the AAG and KLFI have announced its collaboration with new publication partner, the Katipunan Journal. The recipient of the Purita-Kalaw Ledesma Prize – Katipunan Journal was awarded to Jaffy V. Fajardo for his entry titled, Nandiyan lang kultura at mga sining. He will be contributing to the bi-annual research publication with a total of two (2) articles for a year. In addition, Fajardo’s essay will also be published in The Philippine Star.

A new incentive for the Purita Kalaw-Ledesma Prizes was also introduced this year. The AAG and KLFI partners with Orange Project in Bacolod to grant a month-long writer’s residency to one of the winning writers. Portia Placino was selected by Orange Project to be given the opportunity to immerse and interact with local art communities in the Visayas through talks, workshops, and conversational exchanges.

Meanwhile, visual artists Nice Buenaventura, Christina Lopez, and Jo Tanierla emerged as the three (3) winners of the 2021 Ateneo Art Awards – Fernando Zóbel Prizes for Visual Art. From a shortlist of twelve (12), the three were selected by seven jurors after the final deliberations held online last August. It was the first time that these 3 artists were shortlisted and recognized for the prize.

Nice Buenaventura won for her solo exhibition titled Fools will copy but copies will not fool. It was held at Artinformal Makati from 1 June to 29 June 2019. In this exhibition, Buenaventura attempts to mimic print failures using charcoal and oil in the same spirit as how a printer produces unfaithful copies. One of her notable works in the show was a rendering of a historic biblical misprint: “Thou shalt commit adultery”. Buenaventura reflects of her show, “The work leans toward an assertion that inherent in the democratization of experience is the distortion of experience. Through generation loss, every succeeding copy is an unfaithful copy. The infidelity that may be found in each reproduction when compared to its source image speaks of material conditions, the variance in my unsteady hand, or even the weather.”

The power of artificial intelligence and the weaponization of identities are timely concepts that gained Christina Lopez her very first Ateneo Art Awards recognition. Her show Portraits (Proxies), held last 7 March to 31 March 2020 at The Drawing Room in Makati, was cut short following the temporary closure of local galleries and museums because of the COVID-19 lockdown. In her first solo exhibition, Lopez reflects about her own paranoia on surveillance by rendering portraits of people who don’t exist using a dataset that consists of over 500 profile pictures of paid trolls in the Philippines. She learned to code on her own, and found the process crucial to her work in seeing the double-endedness of technology; in doing so, Lopez gained an understanding that if she could do it, others were capable of doing the same. Aside from winning the Fernando Zóbel Prizes for Visual Art, Lopez was also the recipient of two (2) artist residency grants: Project Space Pilipinas in Lucban, Quezon and No Space Residency in Baguio.

Jo Tanierla emerged as a winner for his show, Pagburo at Pag-alsa: Natural Depictions and Illustrated Prophecies (Gelacio, 1910). It was his very first solo exhibition held from 20 October until 12 December 2020 at the Jorge B. Vargas Museum & Filipiniana Research Center in UP Diliman. Pagburo at Pag-alsa is a historical fiction set in 1910 Luzon about the journey of Gelacio and Manta-tio from Malagonlong bridge in Tayabas to Pamitinan cave in Montalban. Through illustrated prophecies and journal entries, the project is Tanierla’s response to fascism and its imperialist origins. Weaving together a fiction within Philippine mythology, folklore, and colonial history, Tanierla exposes the continuing colonization of the archipelago by foreign powers, and anticipates a formidable collective resistance against the ruling class and the oppressive systems they maintain. For his exhibition, Tanierla was invited by two (2) residency partners: Casa San Miguel in Zambales and Abungalow Residency in Negros Occidental.

The AAG is also pleased to announce the continuation of its partnership with the Embassy of Italy. In 2018, the AAG partnered with the Embassy of Italy through the initiative of former Italian Ambassador to the Philippines, Giorgio Guglielmino, to help in its program to compile a collection of Philippine contemporary art for its offices and the Ambassador’s official residence. This year, Mr. Eugeniu Rotaru, Chargé d affaires of the Embassy of Italy in Manila, announced visual artist Brisa Amir as the recipient of the 2021 Ateneo Art Awards - Embassy of Italy Purchase Prize. Amir was shortlisted for her exhibit, Untitled Blankets, held at Artinformal Makati last 19 October to 16 November 2019. In this show, Amir presents her poetic approach on makeshift shelters and homemaking, using paper and textile to explore the ever-changing landscape of her birthplace and community in Krus na Ligas, Quezon City.

Due to current quarantine restrictions, the Ateneo Art Gallery defers the annual physical exhibition featuring the twelve (12) shortlisted exhibits for the Fernando Zóbel Prizes for Visual Art. In place of an onsite show, the AAG will release online a series of video features about the exhibits through its social media accounts and website. Meanwhile, the nine (9) shortlisted essays are posted on the Vital Points: Essays from the Purita Kalaw-Ledesma Prizes in Art Criticism microsite. Readers may visit pkl.ateneoartgallery.com.

The 2021 Ateneo Art Awards is co-presented by the Ateneo Art Gallery, Kalaw-Ledesma Foundation Inc., and The Philippine Star; In partnership with ArtAsiaPacific and Katipunan Journal; and with support from the Embassy of Italy. Special thanks to residency partners: No Space Residency, Project Space Pilipinas, Casa San Miguel, ABungalow Residency, and Orange Project.