An installation by Philippine artist Patricia Eustaquio is among the highlights of an exhibition that opened last month at the Mind Set Art Center in Taipei.
Eustaquio’s 2016-2021 installation — titled Land, which rethinks the themes of exploration and empire — features a coconut sculpture lying on lava salt placed on top of a raised display. Next to it is a large oval mirror engraved with a quote from the book The First Voyage Around the World (1519-1522): An Account of Magellan’s Expedition.
The quote from the book by Antonio Pigafetta says: “I long ago dreamed, said the sultan, that some ships were coming hither from distant countries. I am an astrologer as well as a king, and have examined the moon to see if this was true; and the moon assured me it was so.”
Eustaquio said she found the passage mysterious and fascinating, which inspired her to create something that would convey its spirit of mysticism and magic.
She expressed the hope that visitors would experience “the feeling of looking at the moon, or into a crystal ball, to glimpse the future” when looking at her work.
She is interested in how the search for and trade of goods during the age of exploration and empire affected people’s lives then and continues to do so, Eustaquio said.
“Europe was on a quest to find exotic goods, spices, et cetera, and their ‘discovery’ of the group of islands now called the Philippines was key in defining a route for the mass movement of goods from east to west,” she said.
Magellan’s “discovery” of the Philippines meant he encountered a cluster of volcanic islands full of gold, roasted pigs, coconuts and palm wine, in addition to fierce as well as welcoming and friendly people, Eustaquio said.
It is the first time Land is being shown in Taiwan, Queena Chu (朱倢瑢), partner and director of the organizer Mind Set Art Center, told the Central News Agency.
Born in the Philippines in 1977, Eustaquio is considered one of the leading Philippine artists of her generation, working with a variety of media to create themes in a manner that is evocative and familiar.
Land is being displayed as part of the exhibition “Flowing Light: A Group Show of Contemporary Artists,” which would run until Feb. 23.
The exhibition features 25 works in a variety of media, such as oil paintings, ink paintings, installations, concept and performance art, by 21 artists, including four from the Philippines.
Other works by Philippine artists are Marina Cruz’s 2021 oil painting Patched Me, Nona Garcia’s 2019 oil painting Involuntary Landscape, and Buen Calubayan’s 2019 installation Pasyon and Revolution: Light and Brotherhood.
Center founder Andre Lee (李政勇) told reporters that he found art from the Philippines to be outstanding, saying that because of its colonial history, the country had better academic study programs for art than other countries in the region.
“Their study of arts has existed for hundreds of years and their artwork tradition runs deep,” Lee said.
The center is a contemporary art platform and gallery dedicated to creative programs and collaborative projects with artists and curators from different regions to promote cultural exchange, its Web site says.
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