Tuesday, May 21, 2013

On the Spot!




On-the-spot art contest is more than judging what meets the eye.


I thought judging an on-the-spot art contest was easy. It should technically be simple: gather works that have something relevant to say and appeal according to one's taste, rank them in order, and you have a winner. It turns out judging is more than that. You also take into consideration not only whom you'll give hope for their future artistic career but also whose family you think needs the prize most. Well, I wish there could be percentage for that.

I joined my first on-the-spot art contest in grade 4, also my first time to join the art club. One sunny saturday, our art teacher brought us to the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. It was my first time too to go out on my own with fellows. The theme was interpreting the Grimm brothers' tales. I chose Rumpelstiltskin, drawing the princess without a face like Modigliani in black-purple gown weaving some gold out of hay. I think it was inspired by a Modigliani's painting from a back cover of the Reader's Digest my dad sends from Saudi, of course I wasn't aware about the painter at the time. As far as I remember, my work was unfinished. We also left early so we didn't know who won but we went home happy with freebies and new experience. My favorite art teacher treated us snacks.

My second on-the-spot was more successful. The event was at the CCP grounds organized by Nido, dubbed as "Mga Munting Daliri On-the-Spot Art Contest." It was actually a fun day, my mom and siblings were there to support me while having a picnic at the bay area. I never thought I'd win but I offered my prize to my dad who was at home sick and depressed for being jobless.

Yeah, like a real melodrama!

Some of the succeeding contests were also quite successful. As I grew, my intentions were different. Times were difficult so I joined these contests hopefully to win the prize money and help my growing family.

By then, I acquired the techniques and look of the popular art style that kids and coaches think will be successful in art contests. So, I also used the same style while relying on good concept to make it standout. It was this simple abstract geometrical figures colored in gradated and saturated hues style. That was more than 20 years ago, and kids today still use the same style. Everyone uses the same visual language, medium, and palette. Does this mean their coaches' or art teachers' knowledge on art stopped at Abstraction? I hope they teach more about art and other kinds of visual expression in various media.



My top pick: the only one in the batch which I think that yields narratives and looks happy to me. And also because this work strongly reminds me of my works back then, same style and technique, the prevalent "successful" style on every local kid art contests even today.


Usually, kids who join art contests mostly come from underprivileged families. If your art entry was like Amorsolo's or Juan Luna's, Picasso's or Michelangelo's, then you are probably one of those privileged kids who could visit museums, attend workshops, and knew art was more than this prevailing style. Usually one or two of these kids in the group join only for the sake of fun. The rest, it's gonna be for their family's food on the table or to pay for schooling.

Now that it's my time to judge a small art contest at the Ayala Museum one sunday afternoon, my view on art contests has changed. I went on to observe how the kids work, parents and teachers coaching on their side, full of hope and working their best. I could almost see myself in them.

I shared the judging with two senior and well-established artists. Surprisingly, we all had different favorites. Honestly, it was intense for me because it's hard to convince someone who's more experienced than you are. I couldn't express myself and wasn't assertive enough.

It was a learning experience.







I gave credit to these two works above for their realistic rendering and graphic compositions among the batch. Two of the three works I think have advanced skills. Age range of contestants were 12 to 19 years old. Medium is limited to oil pastels on illustration board.




Some of the entries I picked as finalists. The theme was about their perception of being a Filipino. One of the judges quite convinced me over the work on the right most side. He thought although it looks anime, which is understandably the popular and influential style today, it's the only work that speaks about herself as a young Filipino artist full of potential and hope. The rest were using cliched symbolism and concepts.




From afar, young as they are, you can already tell which ones who really have inborn talent and the others who'll spend more years practicing, or pursuing by parents.