A group of Cebuano artists has been invited by the mayor of Paris, Michele Blumenthal, and Frederic de Beauvoir of the Parisian gallery Le 100 Etablissement Culturel Solidaire, for exhibitions and residency there in September this year.
The artists will be joining the “12×12”, a yearly art festival held in Paris, which is participated in by selected French artists and those invited from other countries. The event will customarily run for 12 days and feature exhibits, shows, and performances of some 12 art collectives. The Cebuano group has called itself “Mugna” after the local word for creativity.
If the project pushes through, the Cebuano artists will be toured around museums, galleries, historic buildings and other important places for art in Paris. They are also expected to produce new works during the month-long art residency and exhibit in other galleries.
This art exchange between Cebu and Paris has been the latest in the previous efforts of Cebu-based Parisian painter Remy Rault to bring Cebuano art to France. Twice in 2010, Remy brought works by Cebuano artists for exhibits he organized there.
But this year, through the help of his friend Julien Harmel, another Frenchman residing with his Filipina wife in Cebu, and the local Qube Gallery, the exchange program aims to bring 10 Cebuano artists to France.
As the pledges of French sponsors are not enough, the project remains a financially challenging undertaking for local artists. They have to scrape their pots to pay for airfare, visas, insurance, and pocket money in Euros. Thus, last Wednesday, the Mugna group held an exhibit at the new branch of Qube gallery beside Henry Hotel in Banilad, hoping to raise funds. But few collectors came and only a couple of artists sold their works.
This is the first major exhibition of Cebuano artists in France and one can only imagine the impact it will have on the artists involved and the local art scene in general. The art exchange will give the artists a first-hand encounter with the works of the ancient masters as well as those of contemporary artists in France.
It will be a rare opportunity for them to learn about the European art market, curatorial practice, and recent discourse in art. Their stay in Europe is also expected to enable them to network with art groups, galleries, museums, universities, and other cultural institutions.
The month-long residency will also give them ample time to make friends with European artists, visit their studios, and perhaps plan for more exchanges and collaborations in the future.
Most of the artists invited are faculty of universities here in Cebu, so it is also hoped that what they learn there will soon be imparted to their students when they return. These gives them more authority to discuss the classics of Western art they have seen in France.
The Paris journey will thus be beneficial not only to the artists who will be part of it but to the local art scene in general. It will not only give our artists a chance to experience art abroad, it will also make people in France aware of art here in Cebu. This will be a big boost to Cebu’s claim as a “creative city”.
Yet it is unfortunate that the artists have to fend for themselves in the absence of support from the government. It is the City Hall of Paris that has invited the Cebuano artists; they should at least have been supported by our own City Hall.
Our government spends much to promote Cebu abroad but here we have 10 artists who will be doing that in France as ambassadors of culture for free, in fact, at their own expense.
It is not too late to support these artists. They are very willing to sell some of their work at discounted prices or accept donations in exchange for artworks. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested. Your help will be greatly appreciated.
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