The artist shares his point of view
Art and design are close cousins in the creative world, and it’s always exciting to bring the design perspective when it comes to choosing and hanging artwork in your personal space. . I am currently working with curator and artist Stephanie Frondoso, who brought her artistic training to life by envisioning a space filled with choice objects that would inspire and invite deeper investigation into the history of each piece.
It is pure pleasure to delve into Stephanie’s intention for her installation, being not only an art curator and writer, but also an artist. After graduating from the University of Asia and the Pacific where she obtained her degree in humanities, Stepahanie took a conservation course at Sotheby’s in New York, before exploring history, symbolism and the jewelery profession at L’Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels Paris. Since then, Stéphanie has worked with different galleries as an art writer and curator, and co-founded Spektacularis, a platform for experimental works in glass. During the pandemic, she expanded her practice to create alternative photographic works.
In an exclusive for Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, Stephanie explains her artistic journey, how she leverages her experience decorating her own space, and the idea behind her Gavel & Block auction set-up.
On decorating your space
I do not hire interior designers when fixing up my own space. I organize and decorate as I wish, considering my collection which consists mainly of works by living artists, such as prints by Mars Bugaoan, Diokno Pasilan, objects by ceramic artists Hannah Pettyjohn, etc. The auction house is also a good source for buying art.
On his latest works
During the pandemic, I started thinking about how to make art without having to leave the house. So I used materials from my garden to make prints using alternative photographic techniques, or techniques without a camera.
I have experimented with chlorophyll prints using leaves, anthotypes using flowers, and Lumen prints where objects are placed on photographic paper and exposed to sunlight. Then the galleries started inviting me to show my works. I also participated in Anthotype and Chlorophyll printing workshops at Leslie de Chavez’s Project Space Pilipinas, in Lucban, Quezon. It became the public programming of Project Space Pilipinas. I think these types of art should be in public programming not just here, but around the world. Because you just need your environment to create these types of art. You just need weeds, flowers and sun.
The pandemic and its impact on the art world
The art is flourishing, and even more so during the pandemic, to my surprise. I think artists and collectors have been able to concentrate more because there are fewer distractions. Thus, people were also able to train themselves more in terms of art. They had time to visit galleries, watch videos and read more. The art scene became more interesting that way.
Selection of pieces for his Gavel&Block vignette
I have created a small alcove as part of a living room or lounge area with artwork and objects that I imagine one would love to live with for many years to come. They are from different eras, artists, mediums and genres, brought together to inspire, uplift and ignite curiosity. They are also accessible to a wider audience, from novice collectors trying to learn more about art and design, to seasoned connoisseurs who like to surround themselves and fill their rooms with a variety of art forms.
Works attached to the wall include various types of prints, works on paper, a paddle and a map, while furniture and objects are an eclectic mix, highlights being a rare 1950s Ambassador sofa, an antique clock cleverly converted into an accent piece. and a long spout copper teapot. Each piece has been selected to inspire the public to continually seek and acquire knowledge about art as part of a lifestyle.
In the center is an abstract offset lithograph by Zobel. Lithography is an engraving method where the matrix is the smooth surface of a stone (usually limestone). The engraver uses oil, water, ink and chemicals in a technical process of making the image. This process being “offset” means that the image is first transferred to an intermediate surface (like a blanket) and then transferred to paper; therefore, the image is transferred twice and is not an inverted image of the matrix, as with most etching techniques, but an image identical to the etching. This room is a unique entry point to collect the works of an important artist and patron of the arts, whose contributions to Philippine art history and culture are undeniable. Looking at his work here, one would never tire of his mastery of line and movement and would either feel energized with ideas or equally restful with the minimalistic, monochromatic application.
The Ossorio piece is a printer’s proof, which is the preliminary approved print or prototype that is approved before the releases. It is therefore considered rarer. Filipino-American artist Alfonso Ossorio was largely unknown to local collectors until relatively recently. Salcedo Private View was one of the first to show his work at Art Fair Philippines several years ago, followed by a retrospective exhibition at the Ayala Museum in 2018. I first encountered his work in person at the Ayala Museum retrospective, and the following year saw it exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Later that year I also visited his mural “The Last Judgment” (sometimes called “The Angry Christ”) at Negros Occidental. I mention examples of these visits because I think it is useful for the public to try to see a lot of art in order to hone their tastes and interests, and once again curious about an artist in particular, to see so many works by this artist when the opportunity arises.
Alcuaz worked with a variety of mediums: painting, sculpture, tapestries and ceramics. This delightful watercolor is a good representative of its characteristic fluidity, using soft blurred edges, bold lines and composition of shapes to layer light shapes and colors. Like most abstracts, you can see something new in this painting every day.
Two years ago, I was able to acquire two Ofelia Gelvezon-Tequi prints from Salcedo Auctions, which I have enjoyed looking at in my workspace throughout the pandemic. I was delighted to see another Tequi print offered this year. The print shows his mastery of the color viscosity technique, using inks of different viscosities to allow multiple colors to be applied in a single print. Many of them were included in Tequi’s 2020 retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum Manila with 219 works on display. Those lucky enough to visit the retrospective would have seen the extent of allegorical statements in communicating her stance on Philippine socio-political issues despite her membership in the Diaspora since 1973. As one of the pioneers of Filipino printmaking and the first woman to be named CCP Thirteen Artist Awardee (1972), a sample of her work would be an important addition to anyone’s collection.
The small map was made in 1705 by René Augustin Constantin de Renneville. This is a rare map that shows the galleon’s route through the San Bernardino Channel from the Pacific Ocean and its passage to Manila. The map is meticulously and finely etched on copper with hand coloring, a more difficult technique that was employed before the invention of etching inks. Its author is a French writer, who was once imprisoned in the Bastille. He probably made this map in connection with his work on a collection of voyages to serve the establishment and progress of the East India Company. Maps are curious artefacts as they record manual navigation using the tools they had at the time. I like their imperfections because they reflect the limitations of the time, but they also show a great effort of craftsmanship. I have acquired cards from Salcedo Auctions in the past, especially for my nephew Liam who lives in England and loves all kinds of cards. There is a lot to learn in the field of cartography, which excites many enthusiasts. When I encountered the Renneville map, I felt prompted to learn more about it, and I think that’s what makes the maps extra special – they provide clues to the story that prompt investigation. forward and into older versions of the world.
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