This exhibition turned the spotlight on the works of the architect, urban planner, and painter, Juan Arellano whose life and creative production spanned the late 1800s to the mid-60s. While his first love was painting, Arellano gained distinction as an architecture student at the Draxel Institute of Philidelphia. Later becoming known as the Dean of Philippine Architects.
His early work designed in a distinctive neoclassical style; eventually shifting to a hybrid form of art deco infused with indigenous motifs. While much less known as innately gifted painter and aquarellist that he indeed was, Arellano produced over three hundred works that speak to us of how one Filipino came to know himself in relation to his personal and larger environment.
“I want to paint things that struck me as beautiful, the habits, the modes of our people, the things that disappear with the encroachments of mechanization and the Atom Age.”
Juan Arellano’s time (1888-1960) brought about several changes in the Philippines. It was in 1898 that the Philippines was declared independent from Spain while simultaneously being handed over the United States of America. It was during this Commonwealth that WWII broke out, along with the independence of the Philippines from the US.
“Landscape connotes the mechanism of power and money to enforce the imperialism of the eye.” – Fatima Lasay, Tanaw
“Philippine colonial history is ridden with long-worn narratives of reconstruction—mildly veiled imaginings of a country in ruins imploring rescue from alien messiahs” – Gerard Lico 2005, Arkitekturang Filipino: Spaces in Philippine History
During this time, Juan Arellano was commissioned to design the Legislative Building, the National Museum, and the Manila Post Office. He followed a Neo-Classical style of design commonly used by Americans for their building designs.
Drawing Space is a visual exploration of the dynamics of space in relation to memory-making and facts of self-imaging. Thread through by pictorial anecdotes in the life of often overlooked modernist, painter-architect Juan Arellano, Drawing Space coaxes visitors to consider the artist’s work in light of deliberate and subconscious attempts to mark off places, delineate territories and claim loci. In taking multi-sensory approach, the exhibition coaxes visitors to summon intersections of relationships between geographies of built structure and psychological terrains visited and thus virtually (albeit fleetingly) possessed. Drawing Space brings together landscapes and mindscapes which make for disjointed accounts of flight/diaspora and restless habitation in pursuit of one Filipino’s constructed sense of self.