Bangko Sentral brings art collection to communities

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ART SHOW The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ traveling exhibit on display at its regional office in San Fernando City in La Union. The exhibit, which ended on Aug. 9, is part of the BSP’s efforts to promote Philippine art. Similar exhibits will be mounted in BSP offices in Cebu and Davao later this year. PHOTOS BY CRISTINA ARZADON

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has brought part of its extensive and priceless art collection to its regional offices to build public awareness on Philippine art.

The traveling exhibit at the BSP regional office in San Fernando City in La Union province opened on July 26 with more than a dozen paintings, from the early 19th-century religious icons to contemporary images, done by Filipino artists.

Among those featured were the works of National Artists Victorio Edades, Hernando Ocampo, Arturo Luz and Vicente Manansala, Jaime de Guzman, Ricarte Puruganan, Simon Flores, Antipas Delotavo, Jorge Pineda, Maxine Syjuco and Galo Ocampo.

Similar exhibits will also run in BSP offices in Cebu City (Sept. 6 to Oct. 4) and Davao City (Nov. 15 to Dec. 6).

The BSP started to build its art collection in the 1970s under Central Bank of the Philippines Governor Gregorio Licaros’ term. At that time, the BSP (then known as the Central Bank), which had just moved from Intramuros in Manila to its present offices on Roxas Boulevard, saw the need to decorate its new offices.

Regina Mercedes Cruz, an art historian and curator of the BSP Money Museum, said the collection expanded under Governor Jaime Laya, who believed that prime Filipino artistry should be in public hands. Today, more than 1,300 pieces are in the BSP collection.

“[Building an art collection] is part of the BSP’s advocacy for cultural preservation. We buy paintings to make sure that Filipino art is preserved in Filipinos’ hands,” Cruz said.

She said the public would hardly see many of the great Filipino paintings because these were being held by private collectors.

Singapore, which is building itself as a cultural mecca, has been acquiring paintings from its Southeast Asian neighbors and has in its collection 200 paintings done by Filipino artists.

Asked whether the BSP is also selling paintings to recoup investments, Cruz said: “We do not sell. We collect paintings perpetually to preserve Filipino art. But we donate some of our acquisitions to other public institutions.”

She said the BSP’s most expensive piece in its collection is Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo’s “Las Virgenes Cristianas Expuestas al Populacho” (The Christian Virgins Exposed to the Populace). She did not say how much the Hidalgo cost.

Cruz encouraged community artists to present their work, saying the BSP had started building its regional collection of art pieces.

The exhibit, called “Exploring three centuries of Philippine art through the BSP art collection,” included a lecture series on art appreciation to guide the public on how to look at art from both the emotional and intellectual standpoints.

Other lecture topics focused on putting an art collection and on art as an investment, as seen in the context of a fluctuating or developing economy.

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