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Moments Musicaux

  • Start

    24 August 2017
  • End

    10 September 2017
  • Artist

  • Gallery

    Altro Mondo Arte Contemporanea, 3/F Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati City, Philippines 1229


“What I try to do, when writing down my music, is to make it say
simply and directly that which is in my heart when I am composing.” Thus,
spoke the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, whose six-part
composition “Moments musicaux”  (Musical Moments) served as the
inspiration for Ambie Abaño’s show now on view at the Altro Mondo Arte

Adapting the same title for her show, Abaño took cognizance of the
work’s history, which was impelled by Rachmaninoff’s reproduction of the
musical forms of previous eras, such as the nocturne, song without words,
barcarolle, virtuoso etude and themes and variations. Indeed, visual and
musical parallels have long been propounded by the pioneer abstractionist,
Wassily Kandinsky, also a Russian, who compared specific colors to
musical instruments.  He was, in effect, the inventor of “musical painting.”
Indeed, it is the same yearning that inspired our own H. R. Ocampo to
regard his abstract works as “visual melodies.”

Against this brief historical background, the viewer will be in a better
place to appreciate the latest body of works by one of the country’s
superlative printmakers. Indeed, for a well-nigh twenty years, Ambie Abaño
has been a pillar of the contemporary graphic art movement in the country.
With the providential and propitious installation of the workshop of the
Philippine Association of Printmakers  within the edifice of the Folk Arts
Theater, generations of Filipino printmakers have had the opportunity here
to improve their art and craft. Ambie has served this association as
president for six years, and to this day, the workshop has become a second
home to her, even as she continues to teach the graphic arts at the state

In her younger years, Ambie herself learned to make woodcut from
observing other graphic artists at work in the workshop. Her knowledge of
the craft has been enlarged by studies in New York for lithography and in
Paris for viscosity. But woodcut seems to have been an ideal medium for
her temperament.  Ambie’s large scale works in woodcuts in shows titled

“Lifted Veils” and “beyond my body,” both dominantly representational and
figurative, prove this beyond a doubt.

In contrast, these current works are done in an abstract vein, in a
panoramic span of over eight feet, evoking distant horizons of seas and
above, a turmoil of clouds, a pitted surface-texture of a multitude of cuts
and gouges, each stroke literally a physical caress, a tender awakening of
the wooden surface, responding in action equivalent to her emotional
moment in the here and now. These works have a stark and stripped-down
quality, bereft of ingratiating shrill colors, save for some subtle and gentle
hues that barely rise to a whisper. While woodcut prints have been pulled,
the exhibited works include the massive engraved planes of
Tanguile wood.

How refreshing to realize that this new body of works came into
existence from Ambie’s intense pleasure in music and her intimate
connection with nature and the universe. Often, she would take a break
from her work at the print workshop, on an evening stepping out on the
edge of the breakwater, and simply immersing herself in the immense
space and grandeur of the overhead skies, the billowing clouds dispersing,
by turns shrouded in a gathering darkness and coming to twinkling light at
the gradual appearance of a million stars.

With the music of Rachmaninoff – or of Chopin, Schubert, or
whichever composer’s music has gripped her in that particular moment –
ringing in her ears, she is grateful that art has always been the joy and
redemption of her earthly existence. To paraphrase Rachmaninoff, Ambie
Abaño has made these marvelous woodcuts as simply and as directly, in
response to that which is in her heart.
–        CID REYES