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Arts Culture Elmer Borlongan: A Man of Art, A Man of the People

Elmer Borlongan: A Man of Art, A Man of the People

Elmer Borlongan: A Man of Art, A Man of the People
By Dorynna Untivero
By Dorynna Untivero
January 24, 2018
In what proved to be a successful opening night, the Metropolitan Museum of Manila hosted its first exhibit of the year entitled "An Extraordinary Eye for the Ordinary". Featuring more than 200 works spanning across 25 years, the museum honours Elmer Borlongan for his unique interpretation of the mundane, the dispossesed and disregarded, and the minutiae of Philippine daily life. The retrosective features a huge bulk of his work, graciously lent by more than 75 different collectors. From his early beginnings in impressionism and realism, the exhibit explores how Borlongan grew his craft and technique to his outstanding expressionist works of today. The halls of the museum were littered with artists, collectors, fans, and ecstatic energy that truly celebrated the man, his works, and most of all, Philippine art. To get a glimpse into the momentous evening, browse through: 

Before the doors openend, a private tour was granted to members of the press and several guests. 

Justaposed against a red wall, this piece entitled "Kapit-Bisig" enjoys prime placement in the exhibit. Showcasing Borlongan's interpretation of Philippine society and daily life. 

The Met Lab, which is usually filled with permanent collection/s, was riddled with Borlongan's studies and pastel sketches.

During the tour, the artist talked about his creative journey from paper to painting.

Here, Borlongan talks about his creative process. According to the painter, he usually draws from real life scenarios, sketching moments caught in his memory before finalizing on a canvas.

He shares that his family members often play "spot the difference" with his finished studies and the actual paintings.

Borlongan's home studio is recreated in one of the museum's halls.

Alongside Borlongan's studio, a living room is set-up to capture and re-create his childhood home.

Situated at the main lobby, "Pag-ahon" greets guests as they enter the exhibit. 

Here, Borlongan talks about his early impressionist style and how he was mentored closely by Fernando Sena.

Along the tour, Borlongan also discusses his love for photography, citing that if he weren't an artist, he would probably be a street photographer. Reifying his deep interest in Philippine daily life and culture. 

The exhibit features over 200 works from 1979 to 2015, by retelling stories of everyday life based on what he sees in his surroundings. 

The murals, paintings, and drawings that fill the walls of this exhibition reflect on Borlongan’s practice and continued commitment to his art, vision, and powerful visual narratives.

Here, Borlongan plays around with the concept of Art-making and exhibitions, painting a gallery scene. Coincidentally, curator Dr. Ambeth Ocampo, recreates the painting in the Met Exhibit itself. 

Borlongan talks about his works in portraiture, recounting his love for capturing details in expression. 

The evening properly begins with Met Museum president, Tina Colayco, greeting around 500 guests who were present during the launch.

Man of the hour, Elmer Borlongan sports a barong for his opening remarks thanking his many supporters and the gracious lenders for the retrospective.

Ben Cab and Annie Sarthou 

Kim Atienza, Julis Babao, Tin-Tin Bersola

National Artist Benedicto Cabrera. His museum located in Baguio City also features several Elmer Borlongan pieces. 

Fernando Sena, Borlongan's proper mentor is largely considered as the father of the Philippine Art Workshop. Honing young students who aspire to become painters, Sena is best known for his "pandesal" paintings as a local practice in still-life portraiture. 

Wig Tysmans with Silvana and Ramon Diaz, founders of Galleria Duemilla. 

Richie and Karen Lerma of the Salcedo Auctions were also present during the exhibit launch. 

Trickie Lopa who is one of the minds behind Art Fair PH was also spotted sharing a moment with lifestyle writer, Pepper Teehankee. 

  • Photography Kryss Rubio


Arts & Culture Artist In Focus Metropolitan Museum of Manila Elmer Borlongan Art For All


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