Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Artists and their ateliers featured in book

By Amierielle Anne A. Bulan and Ma.Czarina A. Fernandez

A NEW coffee-table book on Philippine art by former Varsitarian artist and photographer documents through beautiful photography and informative text the ateliers or work studios of 75 of the country’s foremost artists, what critics have described as a very helpful “archival” project to record the creative process that goes into masterpieces of the visual arts.

“Filipino Artists in their Studios” is published by the Manila Bulletin and conceptualized and photographed by visual artist-photojournalist Jose Vinluan “Pinggot” Zulueta, a BS Fine Arts in Advertising Arts graduate of the old UST College of Architecture and Fine Arts.

“Our goal is to give a glimpse of the artists’ lives, not just a usual profile presentation of them with their artworks,” Zulueta told the Varsitarian during the book launch last Oct. 30 at the Fiesta Pavilion of the Manila Hotel.

The 324-page book is not only a compilation of photographs by Zulueta that originally appeared in the C’est La Vie or lifestyle section of the Bulletin. It is also accompanied by insightful texts and captions written by writers and journalists such as Paul Zafaralla, Barbara Dacanay, Dennis Ladaw, and Isabel de Leon.

“Usually, the audience see just the artwork alone, mounted or framed in an exhibit,” said CJ Tañedo, one of the artists featured in the book. “But once they get to see the studio, they can see the artists in a new light, and they can see his work habits and the natural setting in which he works.”

Tañedo, a winner of the Metrobank art awards back in the late 1990’s, himself is a Thomasian.
De Leon, a News staffer of the Varsitarian during her student days and now the news editor of the Bulletin and a former Malacanang assistant press secretary, compared an artist’s studio to a bedroom which is “not accessible to anyone.”

“We were very humbled when they allowed us to enter their spaces,” De Leon said. “Not everyone can be granted the opportunity to enter an artist’s sacred space.”

Art enthusiasts like Silvana Diaz, who owns Galleria Duemila, the country’s longest running gallery, said the book gives new perspective on Philippine art.

“He [Zulueta] brings the client and the public who are not well versed in art into an intimacy and place where they see the artist in their environment. When you don’t have art education or study art history, you may penetrate into their intimate life this way,” Diaz said.

25 alumni artists
Among the 75 artists featured in the book, 25 are notable Thomasian alumni mostly products of the old College of Architecture and Design. Sculptor Ramon Orlina, National Artist for Visual Arts Arturo Luz, the late abstractionist Romulo Olazo and father of Philippine conceptual art Roberto Chabet are featured along with Antonio Austria, Manuel Baldemor, Gabriel Barredo, Andres Barrioquinto, Salvador Ching, Fil Delacruz, Danny Dalena, Mideo Cruz, Igan D’Bayan, Edgar Doctor, Alfredo Esquillo Jr., Raul Isidro, Prudencio Lamarroza, Julie Lluch, Sofronio Y Mendoza, Mario Parial, Mario de Rivera, Jose Tence Ruiz, CJ Tanedo, Ronald Ventura, and Juvenal Sansó.

Ruiz, who was part of the creative team behind the Philippine Pavilion in this year’s Venice Biennale, recalled the time when the book was still an idea.

“Why don’t I make a more active documentation of what’s happening in our art scene?” was the question asked by Zulueta to Ruiz back in 2008.

According to Ruiz, Zulueta was given the go-signal by the Manila Bulletin to start the project, and from there started a weekly feature in the newspaper that puts the spotlight on a local artist and his or her works.

“He would bring a young writer, and he himself was the photographer. Little did we all realize that that would be a book seven years later. It was all a happy accident,” Ruiz said in an interview.

The book has long been awaited by artists and art enthusiasts. Isidro, an abstractionist and a former fine arts dean of the Philippine Women’s University, said that the publication was “overwhelming.”

“Although there were books published before, this is different as it takes on a personal and intimate relationship with the artist,” Isidro said.

Meanwhile, veteran watercolorist Edgar Doctor said that this book is a breakthrough in the Philippine art scene because it gives recognition to local artists.

“It’s always the art more than the artist, and now the Filipino artist is given recognition,” Doctor said.
“Filipino Artists in their Studios” is available in leading bookstores nationwide.

The Varsitarian I 11/27/2015 I 7:23


Thursday, December 10, 2015

More Thomasians featured in 'Papelismo'
By Ma. Czarina A. Fernandez

THE PAPER as a premier medium in Philippine art was the focal point of Papelismo 6, a group exhibit at the Nova Gallery, Makati City.

Thomasians Thomas Daquioag, Pinggot Zulueta, Benjie Cabrera and Melvin Culaba were among a dozen artists who explored the creative possibilities of paper as an art medium.

Daquioag, a Painting alumnus of UST, shows social realism in “The Heir” and “The Heir 2,” which portray a child on the floor and a woman sitting on a couch.

His other featured work, a watercolor on arches or air-dried paper titled “ABAKADA Series” features a family making their way through a flood.

“Working on paper as compared to other mediums presents a more difficult challenge,” Daquioag said. “Paper requires a degree of perfection that you don’t necessarily employ in other mediums.”
Meanwhile, Pinggot Zulueta’s black-on-white-ink-on-paper works, reflect his life as an illustrator and newspaper cartoonist back in the 1980s.

Zulueta’s “Talking to Basquiat,” “Knowing Francis Bacon” and “Dialogue with George Condo” are explorations of faces and portraits using the forms and shapes of artists like Picasso and Condo.

“I borrowed art styles from renowned artists and incorporated them with my own style,” Zulueta said. “It’s like a conversation of art between my style and the style of others.”

Zulueta also expressed his preference for paper as a medium since he is known for sketches and illustrations.
“With paper,” he said, “art is boundless. You can sketch, cut, fold, or literally do anything that doesn’t limit your art.”

Meanwhile, engraving artist Cabrera’s works titled “Unexpected Visitor,” “Garden Delight” and “Erratic Self-Reflection” deal with themes of creation, preservation and destruction.

“My works in this edition of Papelismo tell the story of evolution where spectators can see the process of life growing and decaying,” Cabrera said.

Despite using engraving in most of his works, Cabrera does not mind using other mediums such as paper, which to him is special if not superior to other mediums.
Culaba’s charcoal-on-paper works delve on religious themes. “Patakam sa kung ano ang kinain… bago kumain” depicts the Crucifix mounted on a wall, among various framed religious icons like the Virgin Mary holding the Infant Jesus.

Culaba’s “Patatawarin po” shows a capped face, resembling the figure of Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant reformation, flanked by a horde of demon-like creatures in the background, in what seems chaos and hellfire.
Renato Habulan, the exhibit curator, told the Varsitarian that he wants to change the mindset of people who think of paper as a second-class artwork.

“We want to challenge the market, that paper is as durable as canvas,” Habulan said.

Ali Alejandro, director of Nova gallery and also a practicing artist, emphasized how paper is a staple in the art scene and how it will always hold a purpose despite arising forms of new mediums.

“Working on paper is a one-act job which requires perfection because committing one mistake will mean you have to start all over again,” Alejandro said.

The group has expanded to 12 artists for this year’s show from the initial five in their 2012 exhibit originally titled PapelMismo.

Posted on 11/27/2015 - 07:18 The Varsitarian

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Convergence II, mixed media, 2014

Fixation at KAIDA Contemporary

Fixation gathers works that evoke the obsession of featured artists Demosthenes Campos, Noell El Farol, Jethro Jocson, Jemina Reyes and Pinggot Zulueta to express their concepts, sensibilities and life principles through abstract painting. Colors, forms and lines are interpreted in myriad renditions, visually enticing the audience to explore the depths of artistic expression.

In Noell El Farol’s Stratigraphy series, he explores the recovery process in archaeological practice in retrieving artifacts with a painstaking process involving wet sieving and flotation. El Farol manually produces handmade paper from juice and milk packages and collected papers from studio works, then marks them with natural pigments. As such, the output may be considered as field notes with its own set of recovered, then reconstructed, footprints.

Jethro Jocson, on the other hand, continues to delve into his scrutiny of value and worth as he questions "If matter is anything that occupies space and has weight, what matters most?" in Perseverance and Compatibility with process colors carefully swathed on stark white canvas.

In Demosthenes Campos’ Detached, he halves his plane of textured and unbleached Titanium White with a floating patch rendered in different colors.

Jemina Reyes, meanwhile, in Beyond, fixates on the spiritual. She closes off the center of her painting with a light border suggesting that the physical world is bound by limits, yet there are things beyond the human plane of awareness.

Pinggot Zulueta introduces a network of thin lines forming a multi-planed enclosure that seemingly captures blocked off shapes and dashes in Convergence 11, and utilizes slashes and stripes that give a visual rendering of beats and free rhythms in Straight Line from the Heart.  

Whether inspired by processes used in archaeology, valuing worth in matter, minimalist detachment, longing for the beyond, or simply celebrating bursts of lively colors and musicality in form, the paintings are exposed to one's personal signification -- interpretation fully depending on the viewers, their compulsions and inclinations, what they hold fast and what they are willing to let go of.

Fixation will be on show until November 12, 2014. Kaida Contemporary is located at 45 Scout Madriñan St., South Triangle, Quezon City. For inquiries, please contact +637090289 or +639279297129, and email

Art in Migration

with former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at the Langkawi Art Bienalle 2014.

Visual artist and photographer Pinggot Zulueta along with other renowned and up-and-coming Filipino artist come together to represent the Philippines at the Langkawi Art Biennale 2014 (LAB 2014) that opened yesterday and will run until Oct. 21 at the Langkawi Lagoon Resort in Pulau Langkawi, Kedah.

The first Malaysian Art Biennale, LAB 2014 was organized by the ArtMalaysia Association, supported by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia to see out possibilities for expression in contemporary art within the context of Langkawi by showcasing the work of local Malaysian artists and international artists from over 40 countries. It is Malaysia’s first distinguished platform for international dialogue in fine and contemporary art. LAB2014 aspires to offer new exposure for artists, art associations, and businesses, at the same time infusing deeper public engagement with the arts.

With the theme “Migration,” Zulueta, together with Darby Alcoseba, Frank Caña, Rosscapili, Joel Cristobal, Buds Convocar, John Dinglasa, Joel E. Ferraris, Merlito Gepte, Rick Hernandez, Rem San Pedro, Celso Pepito, Fe Madrid Pepito, Simkin de Pio, Jik Villanueva, and Sonia Yrastorza, each came up with three art pieces that reflect cultures that meld together in a constant state of influx. The theme is also symbolic of artists coming together to a new destination that offers nature, beauty, and inspiration.

Among the activities lined up for the 10-day biennale are Peletakan Orang-orang (Interactive Installation of Scarecrows), Gotong-royong Angkat Rumah (an old Malaysian custom where villagers gather to help some move his house, similar, albeit purely literal, to the Filipino concept bayanihan), and the Malaysian and Chinese exhibition “Friendship is Forever.” —JACKY LYNNE A. OIGA

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Ross Capili, Pinggot Zulueta celebrate abstraction in joint show

By Dexter R. Matilla 
Philippine Daily Inquirer8:45 am  
Monday, September 1st, 2014

Ross Capili and Pinggot Zulueta are stalwarts in photography and photojournalism, but both have also a growing abstract art practice.
Individually, they translate the process of photography into abstracted forms that reveal intellectual depth and technical talent.
The exhibition “2View” brings these two artists together for the first time. It will open at Galerie Francesca-Megamall today, Sept. 1, at 6 p.m.
Multiawarded artist  Capili uses the flowing nature of Asian calligraphy as an inspiration for his new works. Using the spontaneity associated with Chinese and Japanese calligraphy, Capili works with glass and lacquered acrylic to bring about a different kind of art.

The series was first conceptualized in 1998 for a show in Ayala Museum. However, the lacquer fumes were difficult to deal with. So Capili spent the next few years working on the series, and the works in the exhibition will be the first time the public can view them.
With over 30 exhibits, Capili’s works in the exhibit not only reflects on the entirety of his oeuvre, but his philosophy as well.
“Floating Thoughts,” for instance, gives off a “soft” touch and radiates tranquillity.
“Song Imprints” is an abstraction of what Capili feels when listening to one of his cherished vinyl records.

Producing portraits of newsmakers is hardly an effort for Jose “Pinggot” Vinluan Zulueta. But then again, this veteran lensman is hardly just that. How he got his break in newspaper drawing editorial cartoons is known mostly to his colleagues and close friends so his foray into painting was to be expected.
Zulueta would be the first to admit to uncertainty as to how his abstract works would be accepted by the audience. Even before joining the press, he was already a painter of representational works along the Social Realist vein.
His representational phase extended to his abstraction.

“It was full of human drama and emotion,” Zulueta says. “I was conscious to try and evoke Social Realism, and now that I look back, I realize my works were sad.”

In his upcoming show with Capili,  Zulueta is now more freewheeling as an abstractionist. Now, the photographer-artist concentrates more on the process rather than meaning.
His fascination with lines and geometry continues and while these elements are the main focus of this new collection, the vibrant colors that encompass the surrounding space prove that Zulueta has evolved as an abstractionist who’s no longer constrained by fear and uncertainty.
“I’m just enjoying painting now,” Zulueta says. “The works are nonrepresentational and it has no narrative and I guess as I grow older I realize that the struggle is over and it’s only right that I am able to express myself through this. It’s my commitment to myself.”

Capili understands this sentiment quite well. He deals with a medium that’s difficult to control primarily for its permanence.
“It’s irreversible, using lacquer and enamel,” Capili explains.
Capili says he is guided by the spontaneity of intuitive calligraphy.
With layers upon layers, Capili says he builds up his work into a complete piece that’s both fragile and intimidating. The separation of colors gives credence to his attempt to create a painting within a painting.

“It is an intuitive expression in abstract,” Capili says. “Different medium, different approach. You can see the abstractionism but it’s not the type that disturbs.”
The show  “2View” will serve as a precursor to the two artists’ participation in the 2014 Langkawi Art Biennale and the 2014 Malacca International Contemporary Art Festival in Malaysia. “2View” will run until Sept. 15.

Galerie Francesca is at 4/F,  SM Megamall Building A, Mandaluyong City. Call 5709495; e mail

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Abstraction requires a certain mindset. The artist needs to balance his emotions with an affinity for his chosen medium. It also requires a desire to experiment and push the boundaries of what his practice can accomplish. What more when two abstractionists hold an exhibition together?

Philosopher Jean Piaget said that, "Reflective abstraction, however, is based not on individual actions but on coordinated actions." Perhaps this is the best way to describe the two man show of artists Ross Capili and Pinggot Zulueta. The two artists are stalwarts in the field of photography and photojournalism, but both have burgeoning abstraction practices that are complex and highly nuanced. Individually, they translate the process of photography into abstracted forms that reveals both intellectual depth and technical talent. The resulting show is a combination of these two practices of like-minded artists, using their artworks as a staging point into a larger discourse into the nature of balance.

The exhibition, entitled "2 Views," brings these two artists together for the first time. It will open at Galerie Francesca in Megamall on September 1 at 6:00PM. Galerie Francesca is located on the 4th floor of SM Megamall Building A, Mandaluyong City. They may be reached through their landline phone at (632) 570-9495 or email at

Multi-awarded artist Ross Capili uses the flowing nature of Asian calligraphy as an inspiration for his new works. Using the spontaneity associated with Chinese and Japanese calligraphy, Capili works with glass and lacquered acrylic to bring about a different kind of art. The series was first conceptualized in 1998 for a show in Ayala Museum. However, the lacquer fumes were difficult to deal with. So Capili spent the next few years working on the series, and the works in the exhibition will be the first time the public can view them. 

With over 30 exhibits under his belt in a career that spans decades, Capili's works in the exhibit not only reflects on the entirety of his oeuvre, but his philosophies as well. "Floating Thoughts," for instance, can be viewed through the prism of emotional calm. Like many of the works, the painting wasn't planned, giving it a "soft" touch that radiates with tranquillity.  Likewise, "Song Imprints," is an abstraction of what Capili feels when listening to one of his cherished vinyl records. 

The works of Jose "Pinggot" Zulueta, on the other hand, is an evolution of his abstract practice that now examines the role of geometric figurations to the concept of balance and harmony. The UST-educated Zulueta is ostensibly known for his Manila Bulletin series on the work spaces of visual artists, Zulueta's concern is of the multidude of perspectives that abstraction can afford. "Chasing Lines I" is representative of this approach. Against a purely abstracted backdrop, Zulueta uses lines in ever-changing viewpoints that allows the viewer to consider the very nature of perspective.

The works of both Ross Capili and Pinggot Zulueta come together in this one-of-a-kind exhibition that also serves as a precursor to their participation in the  2014 Langkawi Art Biennale and the 2014 Malacca International Contemporary Art Festival in Malaysia. "2 Views" is an art event that definitely should not be missed. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Above Us Only Sky, 3x5ft, mixed media, 2014

“Line is a rich metaphor for the artist. It denotes not only boundary, edge or contour, but is an agent for location, energy, and growth. It is literally movement and change - life itself. “ – Lance Esplund

The words of noted art critic Lance Esplund perhaps best represents the natural evolution of Pinggot Zulueta’s work into what it is today. Hislatest collection depicts the product of his latest visual contemplations. Coming fresh from an exhibit last year in which he explored connecting his impressionist figurative works with diptych lines. Since then, Zulueta has been fascinated and drawn to lines. 

Lines, being the very foundation of all artworks, became the very idea that he wanted to bring into the foreground as it is the corner stone of every image. In a way, as Zulueta goes back to the basics, removing all pretentions and reverting to the raw skeleton of every artwork, it is evident that he is also unleashing the most primal elements of his emotions in color and strokes to contrast the disciplined and imposing connotation of the line.

The geometric structures become the very subject of his collection as central in composition, he pays  homage the ever dependent and often under appreciated line. 
There are no pretentions to his work, it does not claim any narrative or message, it has no hidden meanings  or manipulations, no agendas or accusations. It simply revels in the very being of aesthetics, and in the words of Frank Stella, ‘What you see is what you see.’