CEBU CITY – The Zonta Club of Cebu II learned new life skills via art appreciation through a webinar on “APPRECIATING CONTEMPORARY ART: A Workshop on the art of “now” last September 19 with the special guest Cebuano artist, Hongkong-based art critic, and administrator, Alexandra Seno.

 Hongkong-based art critic and administrator, Alexandra Seno

Seno outlined her talk on the key trends and issues about Contemporary Art, as well as provided fundamental principles of Art Appreciation.  Her talk primarily focused on Asian Art and she introduced five Filipino Contemporary artists not because their pieces were expensive but for their contribution to Filipino art.

Seno shared that foremost of these Filipino Contemporary artists is Fernando Zobel. Aside from developing his own visual language, Zobel nurtured a whole generation of artists who became legends and masters of their time.   Zobel circulated and introduced many ideas, concepts, and attitudes towards art which shaped what is contemporary art today in the Philippines, she noted.

The other four artists belong to different fields of visual arts, Seno went on that Martha Atienza is mostly into videography and art installations; Manuel Rodriguez was a printmaker; Neal Oshima is a photographer; Pacita Abad is known for her crafts and textile arts.  

Seno also introduced 10 Asian Artists that were worthwhile knowing at the same time interesting.  She likes to engage in Contemporary Art because it is the art of our times and she believes everyone should as well do so.

Do you need to understand art to appreciate it? Seno says no but if it makes you feel something, then that art is successful, she said. 

When asked what factor a potential collector should consider when buying a piece of art, Seno said that one should buy the best he can afford and what he really likes because he will have to live with it.  

She said she prefers buying art pieces from the galleries even though they are more expensive than buying them directly from the artists. Seno added that Contemporary Art though can be uncomfortable.  “But isn’t life uncomfortable,” she smiled.

“The gallery system makes artists part of a larger system.  Without it, an artist when gone will have no gallery to champion his cause, his art, and his reputation.  In the end, the artist will fade from memory and become a footnote,” Seno stated.

The Zontian said the webinar session brought modern art down from the more cerebral and the intellectual to the emotional.  Zontians think they are now more confident and better equipped to visit museums of modern art.  

“Now we know that we do not have to understand abstract art – all that is needed is to feel if we like it or not.  We just have to absorb the work and allow it to elicit a memory, a reaction, or an emotion,” Zontians said.

Seno was introduced to art in her early years first through summer art classes and the art around her parents’ home. Then she has fond memories of reading cases seated on a Barcelona chair under a painting of Joya while taking up Legal Management in Ateneo de Manila University.   However, it was only after going through several careers that “art found her”.

The webinar was presented by the Membership Development Committee and it was the first of a series that aims to bring new life skills to the Zontians, in between serious matters.

Fernando Zóbel, ĺcaro from Serie Negra, 1962. Oil on canvas. 137.5 x 200 cm. Collection of Ayala Corporation on loan to Ayala Museum photo from National Gallery SG