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October 14, 2010


A loud bang sounds in the middle of the night and sends shockwaves from an epicenter, spreading force into ripples that scatter in all directions.  Its energy is so palpable, it becomes a wave of destruction, pulverizing everything in its path.  Its noise, like a muffled clap sonically magnified, echoes in the ears of those who hear, even leaving some deaf and struck dumb.

That’s what experiencing a huge explosion might be like, a sudden, violent eruption that catches people unaware yet causes such grave and widespread devastation, the world cannot help but notice.

Now consider this phenomenon happening the other way around—gathering power from far-reaching directions, exerting pressure little by little as the force gathers into a concentrated mass of pure energy than then collapses on its own out of sheer weight and concentrated volume.  That, then, would be an implosion.

First founded in 1901 as Manila Trade School, renamed as the Philippine School of Arts and Trade in 1910, then evolving into the Philippine College of Arts and Trades in 1959, the Technological University of the Philippines became the TUP we all know in 1978.  Though geared towards teaching industry related courses, the school offered drawing subjects as early as 1907, which then led to the creation of the College of Architecture and Fine Arts (CAFA), with its Architecture, Fine Arts, and Graphics departments.

It is this training ground that then molded raw talent into skilled painters, photographers, and graphics designers that consistently gain top prizes in contests, surprising art critics and collectors alike.  From Art Petron, PLDT and the Shell National Students Art Competitions, to the AAP Art Annual, Kulay sa Tubig, GSIS and ECCA tilts, but especially in the Metrobank Art and Design Excellence Awards and the Philip Morris Philippine Art Awards, TUP alumni have reaped accolades left and right, making an indelible mark in the annals of Philippine art history, breaking through norms and school-defined barriers.  Some artists who hailed from TUP even went as far as winning recognition in what may be the most prestigious and sought-after honor of being Thirteen Artists Awardees of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and recipients of the Ateneo Art Awards.

For IMPLODE, the TUP Alumni Art Exhibit for 2010, a selection of these winning artists’ works are gathered to show the art-going public that indeed, this group is worth reckoning.  In a wide range of paintings, mixed media pieces and installations, they express grit, earnestness and severity, challenging the very ideals of traditional beauty and picture-making works of art.  Dark tones and themes pervade the collection, with even the brightly-hued pieces suspect of treating eye candy as saccharine colors expressing unsavory truths.

One might wonder what truly creates distinction in these artworks—is it the water they drink on campus?  Special tutorials outlined by their instructors? Or just an overall freedom to experiment on media and techniques brought about by a dogged drive to be different?  These artists seem to be bent on breaking rules, on doing rather than studying, trying something else, rather than following what has been done before.

Results then lead to a gathering force of concepts, ideas and techniques forming a vortex that, working as in nature, configures meandering whirls and eddies, moves slowly yet increases density as it centers.  An implosion is at hand, and it is as strong as an explosion, only, instead of being scattered in the wind, its creative force unwaveringly points inwards, never wasting an iota of energy.

And the art world cannot help but take notice. 


*The works of the T.U.P Alumni are on exhibit from Oct. 14 to Nov. 28, 2010 at the Bulwagang Juan Luna (Main Gallery, 3/F) of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City