Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — The winners of the 16th edition of the Ateneo Art Awards have been announced. For the Fernando Zóbel Prizes for Visual Art, the winners are Keb Cerda for his exhibition “Super Nardo: False Profits,” Archie Oclos for “Lupang Hinirang,” and Cos Zicarelli for “Years of Dust Will be a Mountain.”
The winners for the visual arts prizes were also selected for residency grants. Cerda was granted the residency in Liverpool Hope University - Creative Campus in the United Kingdom; Oclos was granted the residency in Artesan Gallery + Studio in Singapore; and Zicarelli was granted the residency in La Trobe Art University in Bendigo, Australia.
This is Zicarelli’s second time to win the prize for visual arts. He previously won in 2017 for his exhibit “Prelude to a Billion Years.” He was also invited for the La Trobe Art University residency that year.
The two winners for the Purita Kalaw-Ledesma Prizes in Art Criticism are John Alexis Balaguer for his essay “Everywhere is Here: The Museum as Heterotopia in Mark Lewis Higgins’ Gold in Our Veins” and Mariah Reodica for “Saltwater Trajectories: Bisan Tubig Di Magbalon, and Viva Excon as Cartographer.”
Balaguer will be writing six articles for the international publication ArtAsia Pacific, an English-language magazine covering contemporary art and culture from the Middle East and Asia Pacific. Reodica will be contributing to the “Platforms” column of the The Philippine Star under the Arts and Culture section, which is published every Monday.
Balaguer and Reodica will also be contributing to Perro Berde, the Embassy of Spain’s annual publication which provides cultural dialogue between the Philippines and Spain.
The Embassy of Italy selected Doctor Karayom for their Purchase Prize this year. His winning exhibit, “Isla Inip” is a life-sized game, a playful study on how our “ways of living” can either destroy or help rebuild the nation.
Oclos also took home the People’s Choice Award, making him the night’s big winner with a total of two awards and a residency grant.
This year’s exhibit at the Areté in Ateneo De Manila University occupied a larger space, with works outside the Ateneo Art Galleries and even outside the grounds of the building itself.
Oclos’ massive mural is on display at the central grounds of the Areté. The work is part of his “Lupang Hinirang” work and was exhibited at the CCP at a massive 20ft. x 70ft. scale. The mural depicts the senseless killings since the war on drugs began in 2016. Each line emphasizes that “dito sa Lupang Hinirang walang pagpapahalaga sa bawat buhay, may halaga lang tayo tuwing eleksyon,” as Oclos put it.
Cerda’s “Super Nardo: False Profits” is an intriguing VR piece with a game that can be played by downloading an app that is specifically designed for Cerda’s works. His paintings serve as hand-painted backgrounds to a platformer game similar to, as the exhibit name alludes to, Super Mario Bros. Cerda contemplates on the game’s unending quest for gold and how it resonates to real-world issues that hark back to the Age of Exploration.
Zicarelli ruminates on his artistic practice in “Years of Dust Will Build A Mountain.” He uses materials (graphite, wood, charcoal, etc.) that are instrumental to his work, or as he puts it, old habits that have accumulated over time. From earthen mounds, assemblages, to wood grain drawings depicting people “creating nothing where there used to be something,” Zicarelli presents how these creative forces can also be used for acts of destruction.
The announcement of the Ateneo Art Award winners also coincide with the opening of the gallery’s latest exhibit “Yellow Ambiguities,” guest curated by Jason Dy, SJ and Carlomar Daoana. The exhibit explores the color yellow in the Phillippine context — from the transcendence associated with its various hues to its iteration as a pejorative term for liberals and critics of the current administration.
The Ateneo Art Awards began in 2004 with the visual arts prize, which is named after the Ateneo Art Gallery’s first benefactor, Fernando Zóbel and is given to recognize the works of outstanding artists under 36.
The art criticism prize began in 2014 and is named in honor of art writer and Art Association of the Philippines founder, Purita Kalaw–Ledesma.
Past winners of the prizes have gone on to be recognizable names here and in the international art scene. Previous winners of the visual arts prize include Maria Taniguchi, Martha Atienza, Raffy T. Napay, and Ryan Villamael.