Andrew De Guzman marks 30 years as visual artist

Andrew de Guzman depicts scenes and other aspects of his beloved hometown, Pulilan in Bulacan, in his works amidst the pressures of developments affecting the bucolic landscape.

He translates Pulilan sceneries into a melange of shapes and strokes, which make his works distinctly his. The spheres are his signature, which according to the late art historian and critic Ruben Ramas Cañete, are like typhoons or hurricanes that intensify and dispense energy just like De Guzman’s energetic and passionate personality.

Apart from painting, De Guzman also creates sculptures, usually assemblages using old farm implements, discarded metal components from industrial plants and found objects. His subjects revolve around his town’s traditions, history, social issues and memory of its people as well as the social, environmental and cultural issues of the Philippines in general.

‘Blue night’ (2017)

He uses art for his advocacy — to protect the environment, preserve the movable and built heritage, and safeguard the intangible cultural heritage of his town, province and country. Through his art, the memory and soul of his country is preserved, may it be in canvas or any other materials.

De Guzman is influenced by Dutch-born American abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning, American abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock, American painter-sculptor Cy Trombly, and Chinese artist-activist Ai Weiwei.

His visits to New York City in 2008 and 2012 are significant as these exposed him to the works of these artists who inspired him to further hone his craft and create his signature swirls.

In the Philippines, those who influenced him include National Artists for visual arts Jose Joya and Federico Aguilar-Alcuaz and artist-activist David Medalla.

Heritage advocate

Aside from being an artist, De Guzman is a heritage advocate and prime mover of heritage conservation in Pulilan. To date, he had established or helped established at least seven local museums in his hometown, making Pulilan a town with the most museums in the province and perhaps in the entire Central Luzon.

He had also restored or assisted in the restoration of heritage structures in and out of Bulacan. Among these are the Gabadon-style building in Pulilan which is now the Museo de Pulilan, the Plaridel Church, and the Nurses’ Home at the Philippine General Hospital Complex in Manila.

He also pioneered organic farming at the heritage farm Pulong Kabyawan in Inaon, Pulilan.

Quarantine Kingdom (2020).

Man of the arts

His venture into arts and culture go beyond 30 years. Together with his same-minded friends, he established in 1989 Jefarca, a pioneering historical and cultural youth organization dedicated to the promotion and conservation of Pulilan’s cultural patrimony and history.

The following year, he served as the cartoonist of De La Salle University’s student publication in Filipino, Pahayagang Plaridel. Two years after, he participated in the group show Samut’ Sari at the De La Salle University Gallery.

In 1994, he co-founded the alternative rock band Sound Crisis and the first Urban Bank National Art Competition during the centennial celebration of the Philippine declaration of independence in 1998.

Sound Crisis’ songs revolve around environmental and social issues which were composed by the band members themselves.

In 2003, he organized the First Bulacan Art Festival and in 2012, the Mandala Art Festival which lasted for a decade.

In 2011, he served as the project director of the Philippine International Visual Art Festival for the celebration of the National Arts Month.

The PIVAF is a yearly arts festival organized by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the institution where he served as the Central Luzon representative of its National Committee on Visual Arts in 2012.

‘Veerus’ (2020)

Works in public spaces

De Guzman has won awards in painting, film, and social work including in the Mural Design Competition at the Hiyas ng Bulacan Building in Malolos in 2005.

His works in public spaces include the Great Cross of Malolos in front of Malolos Cathedral (2007), the assemblage Convergence III at New York’s Long Island (2008), and other works in a number of museums.

His latest exhibit, which ran from 8 to 30 September, featured his works during the last 30 years from abstractions of the countryside to his lockdown series during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

This body of works include sketches, acrylic-on-canvas paintings, sculptures, and installation art, works that can be truly identified as tatak De Guzman.

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