The 12 artists shortlisted for the 2017 Ateneo Art Awards

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Czar Kristoff’s “Configurations," which ran at the West Gallery from June 16 to July 16 last year, is one of the 12 outstanding works chosen from a total of 61 nominations. Photo from WEST GALLERY

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Fourteen years ago, the Ateneo Art Awards was established to honor the Ateneo Art Gallery’s (AAG) founding benefactor, Fernando Zóbel, by recognizing three Filipino visual artists below the age of 36.

This year, the shortlist includes 12 outstanding works exhibited between May 2, 2016 and May 1, 2017, chosen from a total of 61 nominations. In alphabetical order, they are as follows:

cnnphilippines_life_Africa, Catalina_Studies on the Movement of Water_installation view_Courtesy of Finale Art File.jpg "Studies on the Movement of Water" by Catalina Africa, which was shown at the Finale Art File, documented the fluidity of the ocean and the land areas surrounding it. Photo from FINALE ART FILE

cnnphilippines_life_Encarnacion, Gale_Blow Me_installation view_Courtesy of the Artist.jpg Gale Encarnacion's thesis show, "Blow Me," features bubble gum configurations suspended in medical jars at the UP Diliman College of Fine Arts. Photo from GALE ENCARNACION

Onia, Leonardo Jr._Microscopic Hysteria_installation view_Courtesy of West Gallery.jpg Leonardo Onia, Jr.'s "Microscopic Hysteria" featuring pyrographed images at the West Gallery. Photo from WEST GALLERY  

Aside from the honor of being an awardee of the Ateneo Art Awards, the three chosen artists may also get the opportunity to win international residency grants funded by the AAG and its partner institutions, La Trobe Art Institute (Bendigo, Australia), Artesan Gallery + Studio (Singapore), and Liverpool Hope University (Liverpool, United Kingdom). These residency grants will allow the artists the space and time to cultivate their craft or to take a break and fully immerse in a new environment.

Many of the shortlisted works this year veer away from more traditional or “accessible” modes of art, with an apparent focus on video, highlighted by Catalina Africa’s projection (amidst other multimedia work), Charles Buenconsejo’s digital autobiography by way of screencaps and documentation, Gale Encarnacion’s examinations of bubble gum (paired with bubble gum configurations suspended in medical jars), Kitty Kaburo’s slow-melting glacial objects, and Nicole Tee’s thesis show, where she explores the ambient sights and sounds — pockets of quiet — that can be found in Manila’s urbanity.

cnnphilippines_life_Cabangis, Zean_Echoes_installation view_Courtesy of Artinformal.jpg "Echoes" by Zean Cabangis, which had subdued applications of his mixed media works, at the 2017 Art Basel Hong Kong. Photo from ARTINFORMAL

cnnphilippines_life_Karayom, Doktor_Linya_installation view_Courtesy of Cultural Center of the Philippines.jpg Doktor Karayom's "Linya" sculptural installation shown at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Photo from the CULTURAL CENTER OF THE PHILIPPINES

Other shortlisted exhibits delve into photography (Czar Kristoff), installation, embroidery, and sculptural work (Doktor Karayom’s line of figures and Cian Dayrit’s reconfigured maps), printmaking and mixed media applications (Leonardo Onia, Jr.’s pyrographed images, painter Gino Bueza’s deviation into printmaking and language, Zean Cabangis’ more subdued applications of his mixed media work, and Costantino Zicarelli’s skilled wielding of graphite), among others.

Part of the criticism of art-making in the Philippines today is the seeming domination of more painterly approaches, so the spotlight on these types of work is welcome, as they provide a wider perspective, perhaps, on what art can be. The exhibits are only partially recreated during the Ateneo Art Awards run, but viewers can get even a small taste of the shortlisted shows.

cnn_philippines_life_Dayrit, Cian_Exposition[Group]_installation view_Courtesy of Lopez Museum and Library.jpg Cian Dayrit's reconfigured maps as part of the "Exposition" exhibition at the Lopez Museum. Photo from LOPEZ MUSEUM AND LIBRARY

cnnphilippines_life_Bueza, Gino_Systems of Control_installation view_Courtesy of West Gallery.jpg Gino Bueza's "Sytems of Control" deviated into printmaking and languages as shown at the West Gallery. Photo from WEST GALLERY

Previous winners of the Ateneo Art Awards include Geraldine Javier, Wawi Navarroza, Patricia Eustaquio, Martha Atienza, Charles Buenconsejo, Pio Abad, and Ryan Villamael.

Along with the Fernando Zóbel Prizes for Visual Art, the Ateneo Art Awards, together with the Kalaw-Ledesma Foundation, the Philippine Star, and ArtAsiaPacific Magazine, presents the Purita Kalaw-Ledesma Prizes in Art Criticism, with the aim to develop and foster art criticism and critical public discussion around art. The prize was first introduced in 2014. Winners of the prize will receive either a regular column in The Philippine Star’s Arts & Culture section, to be published twice a month, or regular contributions of six articles to ArtAsiaPacific Magazine within the year.

This year’s shortlist of six, where two will be chosen as winners, are as follows:

  • Christian Benitez’ “History is Form: On Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s ‘The Serenity of Madness’” (held at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design)
  • Carlo Pacolor Garcia’s “Beaded Gestures” (on Karl Castro’s “Social Fabric” at Vargas Museum)
  • Ariana Mercado’s “Dalena’s Curtain Call” (on “Last Full Show” at the Cultural Center of the Philippines)
  • John Kenneth Paranada’s “Tie a String but Cut it Right in the Middle” (on “Tie a String Around the World” at Vargas Museum)
  • Chanon Kenji Praepipatmongkol’s “Equivocal Beliefs: Natee Utarit at Ayala Museum” (on “Optimism is Ridiculous — The Altarpieces” at Ayala Museum)
  • Josephine V. Roque’s “Transits of Meaning” (on “Almost There” at Vargas Museum)

Previous winners of the Purita Kalaw-Ledesma Prize include Pristine de Leon, Dominic Zinampan, Carlo Daoana, and Paula S. Acuin.

cnnphilippines_life_Buenconsejo,Charles_Name, Kind, etc._installation view_Courtesy of Artinformal.jpg Charles Buenconsejo’s "Name, Kind, Application, Date Last Opened, Date Added, Date Modified, Date Created, Size, Tags" showed a digital autobiography by way of screencaps and documentation. Photo from ARTINFORMAL

Kitty Kaburo.jpg Kitty Kaburo’s “Life Jacket Under Your Seat” was part of the group exhibition at Langgeng Art Foundation, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. In photo is a remounted version of her work at Shangri-La Plaza. Photo by CARINA SANTOS  

The visual art exhibits, which were partially re-created, were on view at the Shangri-La Plaza’s East Wing from Aug. 23 to Sept. 4. They will also be on view for the public between Oct. 1 and Dec. 2 at the Ateneo Art Gallery, following final deliberations by this year’s jury, which are notoriously kept secret until the awarding itself.

The awarding ceremony for the winners will be held at the Ateneo de Manila University campus on Oct. 1, 2017.


The Ateneo Art Awards is presented by the Ateneo Art Gallery, Shangri-La Plaza, and The Philippine Star. Its partners are the Kalaw-Ledesma Foundation, Inc., ArtAsiaPacific Magazine, Artesan Gallery + Studio, La Trobe Art Institute, Liverpool Hope University, Metro Society, and YStyle, and supported by the Australian Embassy in the Philippines and Qantas.