Art+ Magazine: Brave New World @ArtLoungeManila

COVID-19 is being referred to as a “once-in-a-century pandemic.” The highly infectious novel coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan, China in December 2019 and has spread quickly around the world, affecting 224 countries and territories. Global cases of COVID-19 have climbed above 430 million and deaths have passed nearly 6 million to date. In the Philippines, cases have surged to over 3 million despite the country having among the strictest and longest lockdowns in the world. 

The COVID-19 crisis has changed the world as we know it. The Brave New World Project is borne of the global pandemic. Specifically geared towards artists, they were asked: How do you envision life in the time of COVID-19? 

The Brave New World Project has two components: an exhibition and coffee table book. To help the artists involved make a living despite the community quarantine and to assist in funding this historic project, the Brave New World exhibition was launched online on 24 July 2020. Commemorating the exhibition and the times is the Brave New World coffee table book, published by South East Asian Heritage Publications Inc.

The Brave New World coffee table book presents a collection of more than 400 works by over 300 artists, inspired by the bravery of people who continue to persevere despite the severe impact of the pandemic and the challenges of living in the new normal. 

The Brave New World coffee table book will be launched on 16 March 2022, 6 pm, at Art Lounge Manila, The Podium. The date marks the anniversary of the first time enhanced community quarantine was implemented in Luzon. Accompanying the book launch is a physical exhibition of artworks from some of Brave New World’s participating artists. The show will run from March 5 to 26.

The book gives voice to artists and writers so they may mirror our society and the times, and document crucial components of our lives. During this time of uncertainty and unrest, it is difficult yet necessary to create art. Works by our local artists bear witness to a stark new reality: the struggle for survival, loss of jobs and livelihood, the desperate need for relief assistance, protective measures against the coronavirus, the challenges of social distancing, difficulties of contact tracing, worries about returning to work and paying bills, among others. Many artists also seek to honor health workers, essential workers, and frontliners as our modern-day heroes in the fight against COVID-19. 

Featured artists in the book include Alfredo Esquillo, Antipas Delotavo, Charlie Co, Angelito Antonio, Norma Belleza, Michael Cacnio, Ramon Orlina, Max Balatbat, Anton Del Castillo, Brave Mabalo Singh, John Paul Antido, Renz Baluyot, Kim Hamilton Sulit, Renato Barja Jr., Wesley Valenzuela, Michael Villagante, Demi Padua, Winner Jumalon, Jojit Solano, Joel ‘Welbart’ Bartolome, Sid Natividad, Chelsea Theodossis, Jomike Tejido, Manix Abrera, and Roel Obemio, to name a few. 

The book also features essays by writers Jose Tence Ruiz, Purissima (Petty) Benitez-Johannot, Pepper Teehankee, Prim Paypon, Jack Teotico, and Brave New World curator Ricky Francisco, as well as Salinawit poetry by Jose F. Lacaba. Providing context to the book’s subject are photographs of the COVID-19 experience in the Philippines.

The Brave New World exhibition at Art Lounge Manila – the premium exhibition space at The Podium, in the heart of Ortigas – will showcase artworks by Anna De Leon, Anthony Palo, Averil Paras, Camille Ver, Charmaigne Mendoza, Darwin ‘Japat’ Guevarra, Dominic L. Turno, Edwin Tres Reyes, Francis Nacion, Gary Custodio, Harold Gomez, Herbert Pajarito, Janelle Tang, Joar Songcuya, Jomar Delluba, Joy Calansan, Juanito Torres, Kel Cruz, Kristine Lim, Mark Francisco, Melissa Yeung Yap, Michael Pastorizo, Migs Villanueva, Milmar Onal, Neil Defeo, Norlie Meimban, Omi Reyes, Paul David Magisa, Ramona Dela Cruz Gaston, Richard Perez, Richard Tuason, Roel Obemio, Weena Espardinez, and more.    

The Brave New World Project wishes to thank all participating artists and partner galleries – DF Art Agency, Eskinita Art Gallery, J Studio, Metro Gallery, Qube Gallery, Village Art Gallery, Ysobel Art Gallery, Art Underground, Galerie Francesca, Galerie Raphael, Galerie Joaquin, and Galerie Stephanie – for taking part in this project, with special thanks to curator Ricky Francisco and artist Jim Orencio. 

As we find our way through an extraordinary global crisis that affects all aspects of life, we are united by a common experience. These artistic offerings can hopefully help us make sense of a world turned upside-down. When this pandemic is behind us, may we look back and remember the struggles and hardships we faced, and the hope for better days ahead.

For inquiries, please contact South East Asian Heritage Publications Inc. on Facebook (@ArtPlusMagazine), Instagram (@artplusmag), or call +632 7369 3461.

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