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ARTISTIC DIPLOMACY

Text and images by DOM GALEON

When I found out that Italian ambassador to the Philippines Giorgio Guglielmino had written a book, I was pleasantly surprised that it was about art.

His book, The Originals: 30 Artists That Shaped Contemporary Art, published by Anvil Publishing, is solid proof that Amb. Giorgio is a man of art, with an eye for works that carry the potential to bring something new and refreshing to modern art.

During the book’s launch, held at the Art Bar at Serendra, BGC on Feb. 8, the Italian ambassador explained why he called it The Originals. Originality, as he sees it in contemporary art, is a change in direction. “If you look at the history of art as a road, I think the original artists represent the bends in the road,” he wrote in the book. “People [who] really change[d] the direction […]. I think originality is something that artists coming after cannot ignore.”

In a word, originality is innovation. By his definition, however, originality does not necessarily mean going against tradition or what has been established. While it is quite difficult to look at contemporary art as anything but a break from tradition, Amb. Giorgio believes that it shouldn’t always be the case.

IN SEARCH OF INNOVATIVE ART Andrea Pasion-Flores, Anton Ramos, Xandra Ramos-Padilla, and Isa Lorenzo at the launch of Italian ambassador to the Philippines Giorgio Guglielmino’s (center) book called The Originals

IN SEARCH OF INNOVATIVE ART Andrea Pasion-Flores, Anton Ramos, Xandra Ramos-Padilla, and Isa Lorenzo at the launch of Italian ambassador to the Philippines Giorgio Guglielmino’s (center) book called The Originals

“Sometimes you can be innovative and go against the flow by simply embracing the tradition again—tradition that maybe, at that moment in time, everybody else is avoiding,” he wrote in the chapter of his book dedicated to Mimmo Paladino’s 1977 painting Silently, I Withdraw to Paint a Picture.

Mimmo is among the 30 artists featured in The Originals, which include other innovative contemporary artists like On Kawara, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, and Ernesto Neto, as well as one Filipino choreographer by the name of Eisa Jocson.

“She made something that is very much of this country but, because of the choreography, because of the music, she adds something,” Amb. Giorgio says of Eisa’s work, a video called Macho Dancer (2015). “She doesn’t imitate anything from a western artist. She doesn’t try to pretend that she is doing something that someone else has done and presenting it as an original. And, you know, that sparkle—it’s not very easy to have. Not every artist has this sparkle. Artists should not totally delete their tradition but they should instead use it to create something original, like what Eisa Jocson did.”

Asked for any advice he has for art collectors or for art enthusiasts, the ambassador suggests that they should visit every gallery they can, even the ones that are not frequented by their peers. He does, however, give a bit of warning when it comes to viewing contemporary art. “Don’t go to the galleries with an automatic reverence for the artworks just because they are on exhibit. There is a lot of garbage in contemporary art,” Amb. Giorgio says. “You have to be a bit more discerning.”



Source: Manila Bulletin

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