MINERVA BC NEWMAN
BALAMBAN, Cebu – In the highlands along Km.33 at the Transcentral Highway, Barangay Gaas, Balamban, Cebu perches Florentino’s Art Space and Gallery, a local art hub and a depot of finest artworks especially providing a platform for traditional fine arts in Cebu.
Owned and managed by a Cebuano artist Florentino Impas, Jr. 51, with his wife and children turn this property into an art studio cum gallery, restaurant/cafe where every nook and cranny are very much “Instagramable”.
“Our main goal is for this place to be an artists’ haven with Cebuano artists especially, can just come here, paint and be at ease. We want to create an avenue for fine arts to be exhibited, celebrated, created, explored and to be propagated, all in one place—The Florentino’s Art Space,” Jun Impas told this writer.
Jun, as he is fondly called by fellow artists said his dream was to create an art space where nature, artists, artworks and art buyers converge in a gallery-exhibit area and enjoy the beauty of trees, flowers, undulating hills and mountains and the overall cool vibes of the place.
Jun’s daughter, Claude Impas, Florentino’s Art Gallery manager said, the place opened last November 2021 and is a fresh addition to the Cebu art scene. It has already mounted three art exhibits since with the latest, “Allegories of Silence: The Enthralling Language of Flowers”, an exhibition curated by Jay Nathan Jore that opened on June 11 to July 3, this year with 10 Cebuano artists led by Jun Impas with 22 paintings now on exhibit at the gallery.
The exhibition explores the genre of still life painting and its development within the history of academism in Philippine art. Following European tradition, still life painting developed as an auxiliary undertaking in completing grand narrative paintings, Curator Jore said in his message during the exhibit opening on July 10, 2022 at the Florentino’s Art Space gallery.
Jore explained that young apprentices to the masters would have to undergo rigid training in painting objects of everyday life, elevating their fleeting presence to pictures of beauty. They were given the task to paint complex backdrops and intricate props: fruits, flowers, furniture, fabrics to finish big commission pieces.
Still life painting became a test of technical proficiency before any artists could move forward to depict the all-important human figure found in portraiture and history paintings, Jore added.
“From this notion of the still life, the exhibition hopes to examine the place of still life in the development of Bisaya Realism. More than a simplistic depiction of everyday objects, or mere painting exercise to hone masterful techniques, Cebuano still life compositions reveal the interrelation of spaces personal and social. They remember time, they document space,” he said.
According to Jore, the artworks in ‘Allegories of Silence: The Enthralling Language of Flowers’ bring back attention to a still life favorite – flowers. With their delicacy and vibrant life energy, flowers have inspired artists for centuries.
They evoke a timeless and powerful sense of joy appealing to people regardless of context. They mark the celebrations of life. They herald new beginnings, witness new promises, hope wellness and hymns a soulful goodbye, the curator shared.
Taking inspiration from two still life paintings by Cebuano master realist Martino Abellana, the works bring to the fore allegories of silence, the unassuming yet captivating, the unknown pain behind fame and spectacle, Jore described some of the artist’s ethos.
The enthralling language of flowers, the rigidity of the vases, and the dread of the human skull capture the vitality, complexity and frailty of human lives, he added and they translate the many anxieties of the times into pockets of hope and moments of light.
According to Claude, “Flowers” have inspired artists with their delicacy and vibrant life energy for centuries. They evoke a timeless and powerful sense of joy that is relatable to all regardless of context.
Celebrating the beauty and grace of flowers as virtues that reveal deep devotion and fondness for a beloved, the exhibition marks the culmination of the traditional Flores de Mayo festivities and ushers in the auspicious season of matrimonial promises, Claude said.
“With their ubiquitous charm, flowers exude a hopeful optimism for the days to come, a calming and gentle fragrance to soothe the social anxieties of the times,” Claude described the artworks that are now on exhibit at the gallery.
This gathering is the realization of artist Jun’s passion of opening an art exhibit for young artists delving into tradition, engaging in realism with contemporary realist artists in Cebu.
“We want to focus on the various genre in realism. Still life, landscape, portraiture and historical paintings later when an artist becomes proficient. Still life is the first step to bringing realism into the fore,” Jore stated.
Artists with their artworks on exhibit at the Florentino’s Art Space Gallery include Jonathan Abellana, brothers Miko and Mark Acaso, Ariel Caratao, Ramon De Dios, Luther Galicano, JM Llanos, Renulo Pautan, and the only woman artist, Ma. Rowena Vios with the special participation of Jun Impas.
Catch the “Allegories of Silence: The Enthralling Language of Flowers” at the Florentino’s Art Space Gallery on June 11 to July 3 at Km.33 Transcentral Highway, Gaas, Balamban, Cebu.