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UP Vargas Museum presents ‘Picturesque,’ opens spaces of remembering and forgetting

The UP Vargas Museum invites the public to the opening of ‘Picturesque,’ its first exhibition for the Art History Series, on August 10, 2013 at the 3F Galleries of the museum.

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The aesthetic ideal of the picturesque evokes moments when reality dissolves into image: instances when the boundary between life and representation is blurred. The picturesque emerged in aesthetic theory as a realm caught up between the beautiful and the sublime, and developed into an artistic tradition preoccupied with the search for scenery amenable to a picture, on one hand, and a penchant for vivid, rustic, wild, natural, and irregular imagery, on the other. This exhibition aims to explore the intersections of memory and the picturesque, of the quest for an ideal, and the changing landscape of taste in a collection gathered by a public official invested in imagining a nation after a devastating war. The picturesque is depicted across a range of media that opens up reflections between the aesthetic and the historical. Archival materials extend the influence of the picturesque into photography, mementos, and mass print. Here, we see the picturesque in snapshots documenting the leisurely travels of the Vargas family, scenic images in magazines, and in advertisement circulated in printed form. Contemporary works included in the exhibit revisit an experience and search from a reservoir of memories. The artists take us to spaces of remembering and forgetting. Artists featured in this section are Dominic Mangila, Lyra Garcellano, Pam Yan-Santos, Jake Verzosa, Michelle Dizon and Camilo Ontiveros, Erwin Leaño, and Arturo Sanchez.

Picturesque is anchored in the context of the Vargas Museum as a compendium of personal and collective memories that has shaped history and historical consciousness. Through a conversation with contemporary works, memory is reconsidered as active, provisional, and subjective. In the museum, memory is concretized and accumulated through time as history, as ideal, or as critical nostalgia. Just as picture frames confine the limits of vision; so do museums act as a selective framing device. While confinement and arrangement are discriminating principles, the act of framing engenders possibilities for present search and imagination.

The Art History Series is curated based on art historical methods: thematic, monographic, and diachronic. The first approach is the thematic, which dwells on the notion of the ‘picturesque’ in visual culture as it re-examines ideals of beauty and expressions of nostalgia and melancholy in portraiture and landscape paintings, as well as images in popular culture. The second is monographic, which focuses on the lives and works of artists. It will explore the careers in painting and the graphic arts of Pablo Amorsolo and Pedro Coniconde, whose works are well represented in the Vargas Collection. The series will be rounded out by the diachronic approach, which investigates on the milieu of the Philippine Commonwealth government from 1934 to 1941. This project aims to bridge the gap between curatorship and art history. It is also part of the museum’s continuing efforts to reactivate the collection and place it within a broader social context.

Press release from Vargas Museum.

The Jorge B. Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center is located at Roxas Avenue, UP Campus, Diliman, Quezon City. Museum hours are 9 am – 6 pm, Tuesday to Saturday. Admission fees are Php 20 for UP students, alumni, faculty and employees and Php 30 for non-UP. Entrance is free every Wednesday for UP students, alumni, faculty and employees. For more information, contact Vargas Museum at (02) 928-1927 (direct line), (02) 981-8500 loc. 4024 (UP trunkline), (02) 928-1925 (fax) or vargasmuseum@gmail.com (email).

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