quaint little rutted bucket

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A beautiful afternoon

After finally selling my soul just to enroll this morning, (just kidding. I just can't accept the fact we've just become 34k poorer. Again. :) I've decided to drop by the Ayalas' purty art place beside Greenbelt: Ayala Museum.

Designed by firm founded by the late national artist, Leandro V. Locsin, the design team led by his son should certainly be commended for their recent work. Modern, sleek and comfy, the new Ayala Museum is not only nice to look at, but is also nice to be in. I feel that it is only right that a place for art should also exude the very character of the art it houses: creative, dynamic and unique.

The new Ayala Museum has two ticket categories: Regular and Discounted. Regular applies to foreigners, while the discounted rate goes for Filipinos. The rate for us Pinoys is PhP 150 for Adults, half that (PhP 75) for students, senior citizens and children. Students and senior citizens need only to present proof, usually an ID (school or senior citizen) to avail of the discounted rate.

The museum's foyer and main lobby reeks of class (in a good way) and style. With its high ceilings and modernist indoor styling, one finds him (or her) self quickly at ease and anxious to begin exploring. Marble slabs and granite wall panels adorn the stairway to the second floor. Glass has been thoughtfully and liberally used throughout the musuem to convey space and protect the art elements. Elegant pinlights illuminate the immediate area. The attention placed even to the littlest details really does much to complete the experience.

My tour began at around one in the afternoon (and ended at four!) The two entrances confused me at first: there was an entrance near the old PLDT compound (along Dela Rosa) and one facing the Museum Bar, almost along Makati Ave. Either way you prefer to go into, you'll still be welcomed with the museum's sleek lobby.

The desk people/attendants were courteous, at the very least. They greet and smile at people and were very professional in how they go about their work. That's a good thing in my book.

As soon as I got my ticket, I visited the first gallery located at the ground floor, just inside the looby and beside the attendants' desk.

The first gallery featured an exhibition called 'Crossings' that comprises of artworks from the permanent ccollection of the Singapore Art Museum. Interestingly, the collection included works from our country's best artists, such as the late Ang Kiukok, Anita Magsaysay-Ho, Carlos Francisco, Manuel Rodriguez, Victorio Edades, and Arturo Luz just to name a few. Most of the works on exhibit in the gallery were either mixed media, print, or oil/acrylic on canvas. The artworks were diverse: there were modernist, impressionist, social realist and abstract works, presented with a distinctly nationalistic theme.

Second floor contains what perhaps made the Ayala Museum famous: its intricately-made dioramas. I've already seen this before in 2001, but it still was a nice experience breezing through them. It really is like reading a quick guide to the history of our country in how it depicts notable moments in our history.

The addition of multimedia content is a nice touch, since it gives those who prefer their museums interactive a chance to relate to what is being presented. This would especially be helpful to younger people.

Two video presentations also follow the dioramas: one that tackles the rise and reign of Ferdinand Marcos' brutal regime, and the other presentation serves as a tribute to the momentous occasion that was People Power that toppled a repressive and corrupt government. The latter almost brought me to tears.

Third floor of the museum houses the Zobel, Luna and Amorsolo galleries.

The things I learned in my ARTAPRE class last term and in docent training were in full throttle by this time. I was examining the nuances of every artwork, from the brush strokes, style, elements, colors, hues, medium... even the framing. :)

For instance, one would notice Zobel's fascination with modernist-minimalist artwork. His artworks are geometric, using only lines, limited shading and even dots. Much like Luz, he favored the use of straight lines and shading for creating backgrounds and details. His works often have white or other light colored backgrounds. From there, he usually made use of intense lines or other smaller but striking touches to create emphasis. A respectable artist in his own right, I must say.

Luna's works are another fascinating lot to examine. His works hint at neo-classicist tendencies, although his write up also added that he later on began to explore other styles of painting, most popular of which were his social realist and romantic works.

Among the three artists, I must say that I like Amorsolo's works best. Most of them were impressionist-realist, but it was evident that, like most artists, his works were never confined to a single style or two. I loved the way he made use of oils. Of particular note were his breathtaking takes on the typical life in the Filipino countryside, similar to the ones we discussed in class.

The galleries on the fourth level were nice, but admittedly, not really my cup of tea. The first gallery featured period clothing from 18th and 19th century Philippines, while the other featured our country's devotion to our Catholic faith. There were a lot of religious statues, in all shapes and sizes, made from a variety of materials. I was particularly impressed with the ones made of ivory and kamagong wood, as well as those that had silver embellishments.

The way the museum also presented additional information on a gallery or a collection has to commended. It was very attractive and did much to complete the learning experience of visiting a musuem.

And now, for some nitpicks.

While I was generally impressed, I noticed two things: First were the guards-slash-museum assistants. They were helpful, but at the same time, almost paranoid in their vigilance. I was just examining an artwork closely when a guard came close to me, seemingly waiting for my next move. I dunno. Maybe I'm the one who's paranoid.

Another would be the bulbous surveillance cameras littered everywhere. They were literally everywhere. I was even thinking they were somewhat connected to a central security center where a dispatch officer of some kind would annouce to the guards that a certain so-and-so person is roaming this particular part of the museum and would keep tabs on him/her by assigning a guard or two on that person or group of people.

It is understandable that security should be this tight, given the nature of things inside (Amorsolos, Lunas and other priceless articles) but really, the feeling of Big Brother watching is creepy.

The only place one could seek solace from the cameras are the comfort rooms. I dunno about the lifts as I haven't used them, but I'm betting they also have a camera or two installed.

Aside from that big brotherish complaint, everything's well for the new Ayala Museum. The price is just right (especially for the students/senior citizens/children, as the rate is even cheaper than a movie ticket in Ayala Center's cheapest cinemas) and it something is really worth checking out. After putting this visit off for more than a few months, I'm glad I finally did.

Edit: I should have the brochure pics ready soon. Sorry, no tour pics. Cameras *not* allowed.
Edit2: grammmar checks! dang. i hate making booboos. ;-)


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