by April Tiamzon/Asianjournal.com
“Art should convey and inspire change. It should confront prevailing issues in the hope of moving the collective imagination and will to find ways and means to improve the quality of life, not just for a few but for the many.” — Athena Lopez
A one-woman exhibition entitled An artist’s story of the Filipino People by Athena Santos Magcase Lopez is being featured in the United Nations Secretariat Lobby from March 24 to April 4, 2008. Lopez utilized a predominantly earth-tone palette of ochres, burnt umbers, siennas, perhaps indicative of her own (brown) Malay heritage in her paintings. While her earlier works display brushstrokes that are choppy, textured and lavish in detail, her recent works attain a more fluid and mellow effect (though with the sepia tones) at the same time are richer and more vibrant.
In memory of Filipino heroes, the picture series is a collection of portraits and images of some of the important figures and events that, in her view, have helped define Filipino nationhood. The artist strongly believes that Filipino heroes, both sung and unsung; who have struggled for social justice and change, a national identity, and independence from foreign domination.
The series presents an invitation as well as a challenge for Filipinos everywhere to bridge the archipelagic nature of the country’s 7,100 islands and its people’s attendant regionalistic tendencies. Lopez hopes that viewers will remember the historical characters in the paintings, and in so doing, experience a personal passage that will enable them to embrace the idea of the Philippines as one nation. She also dreams that the series will encourage unity among her countrymen.
Athena Santos Magcase Lopez comes from a family of visual artists, poets, and politicians who have influenced her life and works. Athena tends to do thematic paintings of so-called social realism instigated by her homeland’s turbulent times and events, past or present, to encourage in people an awareness of painful realities or issues that, in her opinion, need to be addressed. Through one painting or a series of pictures, she aims to achieve a more personalized imagery or commentary on historical or current events. Where possible, she uses her own experiences to help convey mood or a message.
Lopez’s paintings are sold in giclee prints because she believes that the image would be more effective in inspiring people if she is able to share it with a wider audience, and not in a very exclusive collection.