Tuesday, February 11, 2014

In celebration of National Arts Month, Ayala Museum presents back-to-back exhibitions of two powerhouse figures in contemporary visual arts today: Zambales-based figurative painter Elmer Borlongan, and controversial Chinese multimedia artist and political activist Ai Weiwei.

Entitled In City and Country: Elmer Borlongan 1992-2012, the exhibition showcases the artistic contributions of the man fondly referred to as ‘Emong,’ whose lifework is composed mainly of powerful portrayals of the destitute and the neglected in Philippine society. Opening the day immediately after In City and Country is Ai Weiwei: Baby Formula, an art installation of 1,815 milk cans in the shape of the Chinese map originally exhibited in Hong Kong in response to the growing issue of children’s milk safety in China.

Both Borlongan and Ai use art as a medium for social and political commentary. Borlongan, who began his artistic pursuits during the tumultuous Marcos era, was an active member of cause-oriented art collectives such as Artista ng Bayan (ABAY) and Salingpusa. His paintings acknowledge the existence of various pedestrian characters in the Philippines, and recognize their loneliness, struggle, poverty, confusion, and resilience. Effectively marrying style and satire in his art, Borlongan was awarded the Thirteen Artists Award by the CCP in 1994 for his contributions to Philippine modernism. He has also enjoyed travel grants to Japan, ASEAN, Australia and other countries to exhibit his work there.

Ai has created a buzz in international art news after boldly staging protests against the Chinese government and other cultural practices, mainly through his art and communications through the web and social networking sites. The artist has produced installations, photographs, videos, performances, sculptures, and even Internet art that are always in response to pressing issues in Chinese society. Through a keen sense of architecture and with the help of artists and curators worldwide, the artist is able to exhibit internationally in spite of having his passport confiscated by the government and barring him from traveling abroad.

In City and Country gathers works from the artist’s collection in Zambales, and from various private residences. Baby Formula on the other hand, travels from Galerie Michael Janssen in Singapore, Ayala Museum’s exhibition partner for the Ai Weiwei show.

The exhibits also open in time for Art Fair Philippines 2014, a three-day event showcasing the best of contemporary visual art from the country’s prominent artist groups and galleries, happening at The Link situated right across Ayala Museum.

In City and Country, Elmer Borlongan 1992-2012, opens to the public from February 18 to April 6, 2014. Ai Weiwei: Baby Formula, is viewable from February 19 to March 16, 2014.

For more details, please call (6 32) 759-8288, or email

Ayala Museum is located at Makati Avenue corner De La Rosa St., Ayala Center Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines

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