A French artist in the Philippines

Nothing makes me so proud as learning that my native country has served as an inspiration to foreign artists, especially after seeing this new announcement from Alliance Française de Manille:

A week and a day before the French National Day on July 14, Alliance Française de Manille, in collaboration with Avellana Art Gallery, opens Henri Etève’s exhibition “This French is Pinoy!”.  The exhibition will feature black-and-white-themed works from the 45-year artistic career in the Philippines of French artist Henri Etève a.k.a. Di Meliora, and is one of three simultaneous exhibitions in three different venues: Alliance Française de Manille, White Cube Gallery (Metropolitan Museum of Manila) and Alliance Française de Cebu.

Arriving in the Philippines in the mid-1960’s, Etève, then a young man in his twenties, found a congenial milieu in Malate’s Café Los Indios Bravos, which was then the favorite watering hole of Manila’s artistic and literary cognoscenti, and frequented by assorted other bohemians. By and large an autodidacte, Etève created paintings, sculpted wood and metal, wove tapestries, and cobbled together unexpected and striking assemblages.  While not obviously identifiable at first glance as the classic homme engagé, certain of his works offer cogent social and political commentaries on Philippine and world events.

Etève’s vividly colorful canvases, mostly peopled by graceful, organic or geometric forms, sometimes belie more serious underlying primordial themes.  But then again, more often than not, Etève’s works can simply be appreciated for the playful, witty, or humorous “artventures” that they are.

The show “This French is Pinoy!” by Henri Etève opens at the Alliance Française Total Gallery on Tuesday, July 6, 2010, with cocktails at 6:30 pm to 9 pm. It will be on exhibit until Thursday, July 29, 2010.

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