12 recent works of Himbon artists UnMasked pandemic journeys and tales

“Right now, as I lean my back
on this chair to take
deeper breaths from the noise,
the bottom of the ocean
deeply breathes out new lives –
that I will never ever fathom.”

Tin Buenavista 

One Day at a Time by Althea Villanueva (acrylic on canvas, 24 inches x 36 inches, 2020)

The pandemic brought the local art scene to a disturbing silence. Art festivals, group exhibits, and solo shows were all frozen to a standstill. Images of gallery and museums mirror what were outside – empty streets and ghost towns. Months after the lockdown, however, its windows and doors have started to reopen in the digital platform providing an inroad to art pieces that display tales of their own journeys on a canvas.

Iloilo City under the pandemic was chronicled by the Ilonggo artists like a clock ticking in a slow motion sharing emotive episodes of the passage of time more than any medium. It happened both collectively as a group, as showed in public art spaces; and individually, through pieces that reflect a more inward tale that conveys perspectives, challenges, and experiences.

The pandemic narratives is rendered on a canvas by selected members of the Ilonggo Contemporary Artists Group Himbon in the digital exhibit they entitled “UnMasked.” The show is rich with anecdotes of deep human experience, visions, desires, frustrations, and criticisms. Its tales underscores not only common messages relatable to all, but also skills that were drastically matured, sharpened perhaps by a period of imposed isolation as a result of the global health crisis.

“Far from the plans we built last year, who could ever imagine a life we are now living?,” posed Himbon in UnMasked.  

“For more than half a year, our nation and the world had suffered a lot from the Coronavirus pandemic,” pondered by the group, yet every person has something to say. Stories that have the power to change lives. Testimonies that already changed hundreds of hearts.”

Contrasting lack and abundance, on one hand, and hopelessness and hopes filled with faith on the other, 12 artists attempts to answer a question: Will all this wake-up calls for humanity be worthy? It is a question the begs an answer for each and everyone of us.

May the works in UnMasked enable you – audience – to find an answer.

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A Calm Resilience by Charmaine Española

As Iloilo braced for the unknown in the early days of this outbreak, I was forced to face my own fear of unprecedented uncertainty. Unprecedented in my lifetime, at least. What had then transpired among the people of Iloilo, gave meaning to its moniker, “City of Love”. As wave after wave of compassion and selflessness came crashing in from all directions, I found inspiration and ultimately, courage, in the face of an invisible enemy. My personal pandemic journey is inevitably intertwined with that of my beloved city’s. Together, we remain resilient and determined to come out stronger on the other side. 

A Calm Resilience by Charmaine Española (watercolor, 30 x 20 inches, 2020)

Uncovering Idiopathy by Marrz Capanang

The pandemic has long been shadowing humanity, full of fear, questions, and uncertainty. Uncovering Idiopathy is an attempt to open up the uncharted areas of truth, something that is evaded in conversations within the community. This tackles the mystery behind the virus and what linger – the exhaustion that it has caused our being in a couple of months.

Uncovering Idiopathy by Marrz Capanang (oil on canvas, 36 x 24 inches, 2020)


Breathe and see the Light by Aljerico Saraum

This time of uncertainty we just can’t help but focus on the negativity that this pandemic has brought to our lives, at the same time the world is in chaos and peace – is being hindered by different principles. Sometimes we feel like we ae hopeless and mentally stressed because we feel like we are chained by our anxiety and fear of what we have been witnessing in the NEWS everyday. Despite to the difficulties we are experiencing right now, we need to keep moving, we need to be resilient to face these adversities and take a look on the other perspective to continue living our everyday lives. We need to let ourselves see the light in this darkest year. We need to adapt to the changes we are not used to before this pandemic. The key is to free our mindset out of this suffocation cursed by this pandemic.

Panaguay by Nick Lanes

It’s been a long while the whole world have been harmed tremendously and lives were threatened and brought some to the point of intense hopelessness. Some because despite the fact of experiencing this unwanted season, there are still people showing hope and encouragement and seem disregarding the existence and threat of the present pandemic by witnessing the daily activities of children in our place. I can say that there’s a big hope that a day will come every one can expect the world we live in will be free again of this unseen enemy, and everything will surely come to order God heal our land.

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