CULTURE TOP TEN
Ayala Museum mounts “Fernando Zóbel. Contrapuntos” at the Venice Biennale; a look at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ upcoming expansion; Martha Atienza unveils a new video installation at Art Basel in Switzerland; and more.
The last time the works of Spanish-Filipino artist Fernando Zóbel (1924-1984) were shown at the Venice Biennale, they were on display at the Spanish Pavilion, in 1962. Five and a half decades later, Zóbel has posthumously received the opportunity to represent the land of his birth, as the Ayala Foundation and the Ayala Museum mount “Fernando Zóbel. Contrapuntos” on the invitation of La Biennale di Venezia’s organizing committee. The exhibit is curated by Ditas R. Samson, senior curator and head of research and publications of the Ayala Museum, and Madrid-based artist Guillermo Paneque. “This initiative is in keeping with Ayala Museum’s longstanding commitment to sustain interest and offer fresh perspectives in viewing and interpreting the artist’s works,” remarked Mariles Gustilo, senior director of the Arts and Culture Division of Ayala Foundation, as the show was announced. The works selected for “Contrapuntos,” one of 22 shows taking part in the “Collateral Events” portion of the Biennale, are drawn from the years between 1957 to 1962, a period said to reflect the development of Zóbel’s signature style, an amalgamation of the techniques and influences from the West and the East. This is best demonstrated in his Saetas series, named after a Spanish liturgical song, and the Serie Negra, or Series in Black. If you have ever wondered how Zóbel was able to achieve such fine, straight lines in the Saetas paintings, here’s the secret: he used a hypodermic syringe filled with black ink, perhaps inspired by his early university days at the University of Santo Tomas, where he studied medicine. (He later moved to Harvard, studying literature and history.) Zóbel was also a great patron of the arts, both in Manila and in Spain, championing the works of Filipino modernists Vicente Manansala, HR Ocampo, and Arturo Luz, and was instrumental in the founding of the Ayala Museum in Makati and the Museo del Arte Abstacto Español in Cuenca, Spain. Ongoing until November 26, Fondaco Marcello, San Marco 3415, Calle del Traghetto o Ca’ Garzoni, Venice, Italy; biennalezobel.ayalamuseum.org, labiennale.org.
thE FInE LInE From top: Saeta Blanca Sobre ocre, 1957; Icaro, 1962; untitled (white Syringe piece), 1957; numbre 344, 1960.