Blaine explored an art haven in the mountains of Antipolo City, Rizal and learned about Filipino contemporary art and discovered the richness of our modern culture and society.
It was a sultry day in January when my colleagues and I visited a well-known museum in Antipolo City. I remembered the gallery’s amazing sets of fine artworks and murals quietly placed in every corner of its Santorini-inspired buildings. They were all stunning and beautiful which will leave you awestruck. Each painting hanged timidly in every wall evokes random emotions from desolation to joyfulness. I was even baffled in some artworks due to its complex nature and symbolism which made me think and analyze its intricate details.
Thankful for the gift of technology we have today, we were able to find the location of Pinto Art Museeum inside a residential subdivision in Antipolo City. The facade of the museum is quite subtle and bland. The perimeter is embellished with simple foliage and white walls, as if it’s hiding some kind of treasure beneath it. It was unimpressive, I thought to myself as I parked my car on the side of the road and observed its textured high wall. As we went through the gates of the gallery, I felt like we were entering a different world.
A Whole New World Beneath The Wall
My prejudgement was wrong. It was completely different. We were greeted with the so called “Meditation Garden”, the first area in the art gallery. The garden is filled with luscious green grass, tall trees, white buildings similar to Santorini and continuous classical music playing in the background which enhances the ambiance. Pinto Art Museum is a place where nature and art are blended perfectly.
There was a cross on the side of the entrance displaying a simple prayer carved in its wooden structure. I felt the owner’s welcoming attitude emitting to every traveler visiting the place. Even though he is not present, yet this simple ornament shows his courtesy to everyone.
The meditation garden is picturesque. Thanks to the good lighting from the sun and the shades of different trees scattered all over the plot. There were sofas available covered in white sheets in the place where you can sit on and relax. On our end, we kept on pressing the shutter buttons of our camera. Every angle in this garden is truly instagrammable.
The Void and Empty Feelings
The gallery is positioned on a land of descending slope with clusters of white buildings scattered orderly which houses different kinds of artworks. These buildings are interconnected with doorways leading to the other galleries. As the name implies, Pinto simply means ‘door’ in Filipino language; which reflects the architectural design of the entire museum.
The first gallery we entered was a separate building in the meditation garden, not connected in the clusters of museum downstairs. It is like an ordinary house with doors made up of Narra and wooden floors.
What caught my attention are the voided metal statues in a canary and a shelf which are quite poignant but beautifully made. I felt a sense of melancholy engraved on their faces. As if they were finding some kind of connection to someone. After surveying the first gallery, we started exploring the interconnected buildings down below. We then delved deeper into the heart of the gallery and discovered treasures that we haven’t seen before.
The Neurologist and Art Collector
The museum is owned by a well-known neurologist, Dr. Joven Cuanang MD (his self-portrait displayed above). He works in the hospital most of the time and I could still remember every time he made rounds, his residents and fellow physicians accompanied him. He is fond of asking questions and giving meaningful discussions regarding the case of his patients, showing that Dr. Cuanang is also an educator.
Behind his expertise as a doctor, he is also a man with deep passion for Filipino arts and his support for the young artists of our generation is truly incomparable. Through the years Dr. Cuanang collected myriads of paintings, sculptures and other artworks and preserved it naturally in his museum as a way of educating and exposing modern and contemporary Filipino art to the people.
At first I thought that the artworks in the first gallery were identical to the others, but my first impressions went amiss once again. The galleries use natural lighting coming from its transparent roofing which amplifies the beauty of every art piece. I was surprised on the number of different statues, paintings and murals displayed in every gallery we visited. They were all stunning!
As we enter one gallery to another, I stood aghast on the largest mural we’ve ever seen located solely on one building. The title of the masterpiece is “Ang Karnabal” painted by a group of artists called Salingpusa. It is 12-feet in height, 40 feet in length and features different activities of a Filipino carnival.
This centerpiece gave goosebumps in my spine as we sat down and appreciate the gigantic painting. It felt like we were inside the dreamy minds of these artists, conveying stories in every brush stroke.
Love, Politics, Sex and Surrealism
The rest of galleries contain random art collections from politically-inspired to sex and open-mindedness, surrealism and something related to Filipino modern culture and society.
These art pieces are part of the down hall gallery in which I was also astonished. It contains a collection of nude art, bold and deep in meaning. Most of it are grungy and surreal with different intent conveying a message connected to our present society.
This is the centerpiece in the newly opened wing of Pinto Art Museum. It shows a triptych painting by Ferdie Montemayor entitled “Panalo” which shows the form of running, biking and swimming.
This art piece is called Love. Although Love looks like an ordinary painting from afar but looking at it closely, this artwork was made uniquely with different colors of sewn threads and patches of painted cloth.
The new wing of Pinto Art Museum is the last area we visited. I didn’t noticed that we were exploring the entire museum for more than 2 hours. To be honest, I can’t even digest each painting in this museum in just one visit. It’s been a long day of walking and discovering yet we haven’t had enough.
Playful, bold, retrospective, pristine, metaphorical and heroic, there are so many words that you can describe in every work of art in Pinto Art Museum. The whole place is picturesque, peaceful and calm. I will surely visit this place again so that I can learn and discover more about Filipino arts and culture. Nevertheless, in just one day, I just realized that Filipino art is diverse and magnificent. Loving our own art is paramount for it to live, share and pass on to next generation.
Pinto Art Museum
Do you want to visit Pinto Art Museum? Check our travel guide here.