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Democratized beauty

Conrad’s latest ‘Of Art and Wine’ exhibit focuses on the underrated art of printmaking

THE CONRAD Manila’s current installment of its “Of Art and Wine exhibit series at its Gallery C shines a light on the historically rich but underrated art of printmaking.

The exhibit, called “Thrive,” collects 34 works by 24 artists of the Association of Pinoyprintmakers (founded by Manuel Rodriguez, Sr. as Philippine Association of Printmakers in 1968). These artists include Yas Doctor (who did a demonstration of making a print during a webinar on Jan. 27), and Ambie Abaño, Association of Pinoy Printmakers Board Member, who was as a panelist during the webinar. The exhibit at the Conrad will run until Feb. 19.

A statement says, “‘Thrive’ brings together 24 artists whose collective work of 34 art pieces underscore the art community’s courage to cope and conform as the world goes through inevitable changes and challenges, including the COVID-19 global pandemic. The exhibit represents the Association of Pinoyprintmakers (AP) conviction that the role of artists has always been to observe, reflect and translate these to tactile units using various media to create art that celebrates life conveying reflective narratives through printmaking.”

The artworks reflect a variety of techniques under the school of printmaking, including drypoint (favored by Rembrandt), monotype, etching, relief printing, and lithography. Most of the works are fairly recent, reflecting dates of creation from the last decade, though two lithographs by Ronaldo Ventura stand out for their age; created in 1998 and 1999. Titled Deterioration and Re-Silence, they are also the selling exhibit’s most expensive pieces, at P250,000 each.

Printmaking is generally underrated as an artform, showing up more and selling for less, for example, at auctions and sales. “It is true that sometimes, there is that misconception that it’s just a print. This misconception comes from the fact that prints can be done in an edition, meaning there can be many at the same time. We call it multiple originals,” said Ms. Abaño.

This same condition, apparently, is also its blessing. Printing (as in text) democratized knowledge, while printmaking (as in imagery) democratized beauty. “With printmaking, because it’s more affordable, then people can have more access,” she said. “We know art can be expensive. It might have a little bit of an elitist attitude. But art is for all. The artist creates art for everyone.”

The same extends not just for the enthusiast, but for the artists themselves. While some materials used for printmaking are within reach to ordinary hobbyists, some are for serious artists due to their prohibitive price: a lithograph stone and press can go up to the millions. Ms. Abaño assured that the Association has the tools to help other artists. “The facilities are there,” she said. “That’s our mission; to promote this. Not just the art to the people, but also the means to create it, to those who are interested.”

The works are on display at Conrad’s Gallery C until Feb. 19. For a catalog and price list, call 8833-9999 (Angelica Restrivera) or e-mail — Joseph L. Garcia

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